He is too stubborn, he thinks he is bigger than the club, we are all happy that he has left Old Trafford as Manchester United sold star player who scored 32 goals last season to Championship club for as low as £20m

He is too stubborn, he thinks he is bigger than the club, we are all happy that he has left Old Trafford as Manchester United sold star player who scored 32 goals last season to Championship club for as low as £20m












Harry Maguire graphicGetty

Richard Martin


Man Utd were too big for Harry Maguire – his struggles are the perfect example of the club’s chronic mismanagement of the past decade


Manchester United

Harry Maguire


Premier League

West Ham


The England defender is set to depart Old Trafford worth a fraction of when he arrived in 2019 as the world’s most expensive defender


Harry Maguire’s traumatic time with Manchester United is about to come to an end. After months of speculation about his future and weeks after being stripped of the captaincy, he is set to join West Ham for £30 million ($38.2m). Most sensible United fans will wish him luck. They suffered as much as he did.


Others, including those who booed him during the recent friendly against Athletic Club, those who taunted him on social media and the low life who sent a bomb threat to his house, will be delighted to see the back of him.


Maguire’s departure from United four years after his record-breaking £80m ($101m) move from Leicester City in 2019 is a sad end to what was an exciting transfer at the time. He arrived as the most-expensive defender in the world, a rock in England’s successful World Cup campaign, and a lethal asset at set-pieces. But he leaves with his tail between his legs, worth a fraction of the amount United paid for him.


He has been mocked by United and rival fans alike, and by the end of last season he was little more than a fringe player for Erik ten Hag, the Dutchman’s fifth-choice centre-back. He ended the campaign making just eight Premier League starts, and in the FA Cup final against Manchester City, he could not even get off the bench.


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Maguire EnglandGetty

Greater pressure than England

Even as Maguire brings a hugely disappointing chapter of his career to an end, it should not be forgotten that he remains a vital player for England, one of the first names on Gareth Southgate’s teamsheet and a big part of the Three Lions’ revival in recent years. He barely put a foot wrong in the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, or in England’s run to the final of Euro 2020. And while Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed their penalties in the shootout against Italy, Maguire slammed his spot-kick into the top corner of the net. When he puts on an England shirt he seems to forget his troubles with United. He is not a shrinking violet.


But even though the media spotlight focuses intently on England and the pressure is huge, United are even bigger. Their fanbase is not confined to one country but is spread across the world. And the reality is that most of England’s matches are qualifiers against nations of little quality or Nations League matches of little significance. Big, crucial tests only come about in major tournaments every two years or so.


United are under massive pressure every week in the Premier League and indeed every competition they play in. And Maguire often caved in against it.



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Dream debut turns into a nightmare

Maguire was one of the most coveted centre-backs in the Premier League when United signed him in the summer of 2019. He had only two seasons with Leicester under his belt, having been relegated with Hull City in his debut campaign in the Premier League, but his stock had soared after the 2018 World Cup. Jose Mourinho had wanted to sign him for £60m ($76m) that summer, but Leicester eventually persuaded Maguire to stay for one more year.


Manchester City were also interested, but when the price escalated they had the courage to back away. United, though, had a statement to make after finishing sixth the previous season and gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the backing to get the deal over the line.


Even at the time it was obvious United had paid over the odds for Maguire, and despite his insistence that the figure did not put pressure on him, it inevitably played on his mind when things started to unravel.


Maguire had a fine debut and was named Man of the Match as United stormed to a 4-0 win over Chelsea in their opening game of the season. But the Red Devils then failed to win eight of their next nine league matches, including suffering shock defeats to Crystal Palace, West Ham and Newcastle.


By mid-January they had lost eight matches. The most chastening was a 2-0 loss at home to Burnley, when Maguire had been beaten to the ball for each goal, first by Chris Wood and then by Jay Rodriguez.


Harry Maguire MykonosGetty

Holiday from Hell

Despite that torrid start, Maguire was given the captain’s armband by Solskjaer in February 2020 following the departure of Ashley Young. It said a lot about the lack of leaders in the squad that Maguire was given such responsibility despite only being at the club for six months.


The captaincy did seem to help Maguire at first, as both he and United, boosted by the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, drastically improved. They were unbeaten in their final 14 matches of the season, thriving in empty stadiums when football resumed after the coronavirus-enforced shutdown. United finished third and qualified for the Champions League.


Just as things looked on the up, however, Maguire found himself on the front pages of UK newspapers and on the top of news bulletins after being arrested while on a family holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos. Maguire was held in police custody for two nights after a fight outside a bar. He was later found guilty in court of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and attempted bribery, which earned him a 21-month suspended sentence.


He has always denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the altercation occurred after two strangers injected his sister Daisy with an unknown substance. Maguire also alleges that he was beaten after being taken to the police station.


Maguire launched an appeal, which nullified his international conviction, and his retrial will take place next February. Did the pressure he was under as United captain play a part in the incident? Maguire claims he does not regret his actions and that he was only defending his family. He was dropped from the England squad for two matches following his arrest but remained captain of the Red Devils.


Harry Maguire Manchester United 2019-20Getty Images

Shambolic defending before another recovery

However, the incident has had a lasting impact and Maguire often has a security detail when he goes out. It also seemed to haunt him at the start of the 2020-21 season, and he gave one of his worst performances in the shock 6-1 thrashing at home to Tottenham. He was at least partially at fault for three of Spurs’ goals, and the BBC’s report gave him a rating of 1.8/10, the lowest of any player.


Beyond Maguire’s individual errors, as centre-back and captain he had ultimately presided over an utterly disastrous defensive performance. United were made to look similarly amateurish in the Champions League defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir. They had seven players in the box for a cross early in the first half, with nine players in the final third, and were outdone by one long ball in the air towards striker Demba Ba.


But as in the previous season, United and Maguire responded well. The Red Devils finished second in the Premier League and were briefly in the title race. They ended the campaign without losing a match away from home. They also reached the Europa League final, though Maguire was injured and could play no part in the 1-1 draw and eventual defeat on penalties to Villarreal in Gdansk.



Sixteen errors leading to goals

That summer, United signed Raphael Varane, giving Maguire a Champions League and World Cup-winning defensive partner. There was huge optimism for the coming campaign, especially after Cristiano Ronaldo’s much-celebrated return.


But the honeymoon did not last long and Maguire was frequently blamed as United slumped from one terrible defeat to another. He was involved in all four of Leicester’s goals in a crushing 4-2 defeat at the King Power Stadium and was powerless to stop Liverpool winning 5-0 at Old Trafford.


During the campaign, he made a remarkable 16 errors leading to goals according to InStat. And with so few leaders in the team, it was often left to him to front up in post-match interviews and apologise to fans. Maguire’s poor performances inevitably affected his authority as captain.


“When you don’t perform well, it’s difficult to say to someone what to do. It’s difficult to gain that type of respect,” said former United defender Nemanja Vidic on Rio Ferdinand’s Youtube channel, FIVE. “In general, any captain has to be first, has to show an example. A captain has to play well and has to fight for the club, and then everybody else will do it.”


Unlike in the two previous seasons, Maguire could not stage any recovery. Things went from bad to worse for United during the 2021-22 campaign and sacking Solskjaer did not make things better as the team crawled to finish sixth under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, registering their lowest points total in Premier League history.


Harry Maguire 2022-23Getty

The final straw

United did stage a recovery under Ten Hag, but it was mostly without Maguire. The centre-back started the first two games of the season, the home defeat by Brighton and the humiliating 4-0 loss at Brentford. After those debacles, he made only six more league starts until the end of the season. He was left out of the starting line-up for the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle, but was brought off the bench so he could lift the trophy as captain in a classy gesture from Ten Hag.


When Maguire began playing again, disaster seemed to follow him around. He scored an own goal in the 2-2 draw with Sevilla, having been forced on due to injuries to Varane and Lisandro Martinez. And in the trip to Nottingham Forest three days later, he looked visibly shaken as the home fans quickly got on his back and he looked in a hurry to get rid of the ball.


He had one of his worst performances in a United shirt in the 3-0 defeat at Sevilla in the second leg of United’s Europa League quarter-final, and after that loss, his place went to left-back Luke Shaw, such was Ten Hag’s lack of belief in him.


Towards the end of the season the Dutch coach was asked whether Maguire had a future at the club. As ever, the manager tried to be polite but could not help being blunt. “Let’s say I’m happy he’s here and when we needed him he did his job,” he said. “But it’s also a decision he has to make.”


It was a damning indictment of how far Maguire had fallen in stature, from the most valuable defender in the world to a player who was only needed on rare occasions to do a job.


United had already moved on from Maguire and seem to be in a far better place from the dysfunctional club that bought him in 2019. Hopefully Maguire can also move on now and revive his own career away from the glaring spotlight of Old Trafford.



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