Home » Harry Maguire completes four years at Manchester United

Harry Maguire completes four years at Manchester United

by Red Billy

All eyes at Old Trafford, Manchester today were on 20 year old Dane, Rasmus Hojlund, as he was officially unveiled as a United player, in front of a delirious crowd before kick off in a pre-season friendly.

For the more sensitive type of fan, there was perhaps some pathos in the coincidence that the baptisim took place exactly four years to the day since another star joined United, for an even bigger transfer fee than the £70 million paid for Hojlund. That was Harry Maguire.

Heralded as the man to shore up United’s defensive line after the comedy dramas starring the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo, the England hero was within months given the captain’s armband by the then manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The man Solskjaer replaced, José Mourinho, lamented that he had begged the United board to buy Maguire sooner, but they had not, thus condemning him to a relatively barren season that sealed the manager’s doom as far as the Old Trafford dugout was concerned.

It all started so well for Maguire. His United debut resulted in a 4-0 victory over top four rivals Chelsea. A clean sheet, a solid-looking new partnership with Victor Lindelof, and a man of the match award to boot.

The captaincy was awarded just four months later when Ashley Young left the club, but there were not many more of those man of the match awards to come.

While Maguire’s international career continued to blossom, it is fair to say it was all downhill from there at club level.

Whether a horrible incident while on holiday in Mykonos, Greece, that saw him found guilty of assaulting police, verbal abuse, and attempted bribery, contributed to his downfall, no-one can ever say for certain. But it certainly did not help.

Now, four years on from his unveiling, Maguire has been stripped of the captaincy, the vice captaincy and even the third captaincy. He has been consigned to fifth place in the centre back pecking order at the club under manager Erik ten Hag and, arguably, gently encouraged to move on.

Some sections of the support, mostly in away games and internationals, but even at times at Old Trafford, tastelessly boo the former Leicester man when he is on the ball. He has, to some extent, become the subject of ridicule.

Yet Maguire himself has held his head high. He has not accepted the blame for his poor form at the end of Solskjaer’s reign, insisting the whole team was playing badly. He has not apologised for his behaviour in Greece, claiming he was the victim of some sort of vendetta. He has gone on to social media to express his disappointment at being stripped of the captaincy and vowed to fight for his place back in the first team.

Maguire has turned his back on offers to reboot his career elsewhere, reportedly feeling “insulted” that West Ham have bid £20 million for his services. Harry, it is said, wants to join a bigger club. But, so far, no offers have been forthcoming from any so-called “bigger clubs”.

Bouncing back from this nadir looks like a tall order for the 30 year old, but a challenge that true United fans would love to see him conquer, whether at Old Trafford or elsewhere.

If the last four years have represented a steady downward trajectory, perhaps the next four will see his career move in the opposite direction. There is no reason why it should not. Chris Smalling, the man he replaced at United, was maligned almost as much as he was, yet managed to reinvent himself at AS Roma in Serie A. Now 33 years of age, Smalling has proven his doubters wrong and become one of the most respected defenders in the Italian league. There have even been calls for him to be brought back into the England team, ironically, to take the place of Maguire.

Though he has many detractors, nobody wants to see Harry Maguire ruined and on the scrapheap at 30. There is, surely, another great chapter waiting to be written in the Sheffield man’s rollercoaster storybook, somewhere in the football universe. A chapter that will, it is hoped, allow him to retire from the game with his head held high.

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