- Maguire and De Gea's future up in the air
- Ten Hag claims Maguire staying is "his decision"
- And offered De Gea no assurances over No.1
WHAT HAPPENED? The defensive duo have come under a fair bit of scrutiny this campaign, with individual errors creeping into the United backline and raising doubts over their long-term status at the club. For Maguire, his desperate performances at the start of the campaign have kept him benched for the majority of United's season, having started only five league matches since the 4-0 demolition at Brentford in mid-August.
WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Times, Ten Hag showed his respect for Maguire for his professionalism during such a trying time individually - but offered no assurances on his future beyond the current campaign. The Dutchman said: “Yes, but he has high competition there with Raphaël Varane [at centre-back], who’s fantastic. No-one would be happy with this situation [not playing]. He is not as well. He trains always on best levels, so with 100 per cent effort. So he handles that situation well and he’s in that manner and in his captaincy he’s important for the squad.”
Pushed on whether the England international will stay on next term, Ten Hag replied: “Let’s say I’m happy he’s here and when we needed him he did his job. But it’s also a decision he has to make.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Individual errors have characterised De Gea's play of late, and have largely overshadowed what has been a successful individual campaign, as he won his second Premier League Golden Glove award with 17 clean sheets to his name this term. But his age and inability to play with his feet have led to doubts over the Spaniard's future, with some reports suggesting that his signing a new deal will not guarantee him being United's No.1 going forward.
AND WHAT'S MORE: Ten Hag all but confirmed that when asked about the 32-year-old's position in the squad next term, adding: "[Good footwork] is not what I want, it’s more what top football demands nowadays. If you observe the biggest teams, you have to be capable of playing from the back, and use your ’keeper as a plus one in your back, otherwise it’s very simple for opponents to put you under pressure. He [De Gea] had to step up. In a number of games, he showed progression.
“Yes [he will be there next season], but I will not say he’ll always be my No.1 because in a club like Man Utd there must be competition in all positions. You can’t do it with 11 players. It is impossible. You need double positions.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:(C)Getty ImagesGetty ImagesGetty Images
WHAT NEXT? Regardless of the some of the critiques aimed at Maguire and De Gea, Ten Hag has successfully landed a top-four finish while ending the club's six-year wait for silverware with the Carabao Cup in February. They will be hoping to make it a domestic cup double when they take on Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday - where they will aim to halt their rivals' push for an historic treble.