BREAKING: Erik ten Hag proven right after agreeing with Ralf Rangnick’s stance on Harry Maguire
The Manchester United boss is clearly in agreement with his Red Devils predecessor if this season’s starting line-up decisions are anything to go by, with one notable omission
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is reaping the benefits of following in predecessor Ralf Rangnick’s footsteps and dropping club captain Harry Maguire from the side.
The United skipper has often been a lightning rod for criticism throughout his time at Old Trafford and things came to a head last term following a steep decline in Maguire’s form. Then-interim boss Rangnick took the decision to take the central defender out of the side after a bomb threat had been made against his home.
While there was no real significant upturn in results when Rangnick withdrew Maguire, Ten Hag has opted for the same tactic and actually achieved better results. United have played seven games across all competitions so far this season, and their return with and without their captain is eye-opening.
The Red Devils sit fifth in the Premier League, one point outside of the top four after six games played. Of those half a dozen, United lost their first two and have won the following four – only one player has featured in both defeats while being dropped for all of the victories.
That player is of course Maguire, who is yet to experience a win in a game he has started so far this term. In the league, he has played the full 90 just twice against Brighton and Brentford, games which ended in 2-1 and 4-0 defeats respectively.
In both outings, Maguire was partnered alongside £55million-man Lisandro Martinez. At first, many feared the Argentine would struggle to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League, but when playing alongside former Real Madrid man Raphael Varane he has looked far more confident.
As for Maguire, the former Leicester City man was handed a rare start at home to Real Sociedad on match-day one of the Europa League group stage, but United fell to another defeat after Brais Mendez scored the only goal of the game.
Harry Maguire is yet to start a game United have won this season
Things started to decline early on this season for Maguire, having been the subject of boos and jeers from his own supporters during the club’s pre-season tour of Australia.
In response, Ten Hag simply claimed that the only thing Maguire could do to “slow” the negativity was to play well. “Maguire we heard but you see, if you perform, it slows down,” he explained.
“I think he, the team, impressed by the way we played. I don’t think it’s the [thing] to find out if I understand it. It’s about how we can change it. So it’s the team and Harry himself performing. That is what we’re working on; that is the only focus.”
Maguire failed to halt the decline in his performances by himself, forcing Ten Hag to intervene on his behalf, much like Rangnick did earlier this year. So far, so good, United are far from missing the presence of their captain and it remains unclear when he’ll ever regain his status as first-choice centre-back.