- England international started the season in favour
- Soon slipped out of starting XI
- Has seen limited game time in recent months
WHAT HAPPENED? The England international, who impressed with his country at the 2022 World Cup finals, started the season in Erik ten Hag’s plans but quickly fell out of favour as United stumbled out of the blocks as a collective. Maguire concedes that Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have performed admirably as a centre-half pairing – helping the Red Devils to Carabao Cup glory – but he remains eager to force his way back into contention for a regular starting berth.
WHAT THEY SAID: Maguire has said on his lack of minutes: “I'm a footballer who wants to play games and I want to lead the boys out of the tunnel at the start of the game, but also I understand this is part and parcel of football when you play at the top level and you have got huge competition for places. The lads who are playing and starting, Rapha is playing really well and we have seen his ideas, the manager, what he wants, and he does like a left-footed centre-back playing, so it's high competition for places.
“I think he [Ten Hag] has been asked numerous times about my role in interviews and he tells me honestly, he believes in me, but this is football. This is Manchester United. We want to win trophies, and big trophies and to do that you need competition for places. The manager speaks to me daily and he really respects me and believes that I am a top centre-half with all the attributes to play in his team, but also he understands that the players who are playing - and I understand that the players who are playing - are playing very well.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: While Maguire is understandably disappointed to be filling a support role on a regular basis for United, he will not be rocking the boat and – having got his hands on the Carabao Cup alongside Bruno Fernandes following a 2-0 victory over Newcastle – insists that everybody is happy inside the Old Trafford camp. He added: “The lads get on really well, and are a really tight bunch, good spirit everyone contributing. The lads who aren't playing, myself included, are working hard and pushing those who are playing to perform well and they are. That is what a big club is about. What is being built here is why we are in all four competitions. I think winning games breeds confidence and a good atmosphere among the fans and the club we are all pulling in the same direction, we all want the same thing, we have got a good squad, good competition for places and the manager's made a big impact on the style of play and in the demands he brings, it seems to be going in a good place.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty
WHAT NEXT? United, with their six-year wait for major silverware brought to a close in 2023, remain in the hunt for Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup honours heading into the final few months of the current campaign.