Former defender Rio Ferdinand defends struggling Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire
Speaking on his Vibe with FIVE show on Youtube (h/t Daily Mail), Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand took the defence of defender Harry Maguire, saying that the current Red Devils skipper was not suited to the club’s style of play.
Maguire has been a constant target of criticism this season, with the Englishman failing to lead his side by example and turning out underwhelming performances on the pitch by committing schoolboy errors. In a turn of events this time, he was defended by Ferdinand.
The former defender, who won a Champions League with Man United, said that Maguire was phenomenal when playing for the England national team, saying that the Three Lions play a particular way of football that suits him.
“In an England shirt he’s been nothing but phenomenal. He’s been unreal. You can’t say he’s a dead player, he’s been unbelievable for England. What I’m saying is, for England he’s been great, but they play a particular way of football that probably suits him.”
The Red Devils captain was a crucial part of the England national team that came third in the UEFA Nations League, reached the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup, and were finalists of the UEFA 2020 Euros in the recent past.
“The way of Man United’s football”
However, at the club level, Maguire has been woeful. The 29-year-old was able to lead his side to a second-place finish last season with some decent displays at the back but has regressed in form and confidence this term.
Ferdinand gave the example of Gerard Pique, saying that the Spaniard may not have had a similar career as he did at Barcelona if he stayed at Old Trafford, saying that the style of play was different, comparing it to why Maguire may perhaps not be comfortable with how the Red Devils play.
“Gerard Pique was at Man United, you could argue that he might not have had the career that he’s had at Barcelona if he stayed at Man United because of the way he plays. It’s like boxing, styles make fights – it’s the same in football. The way of Man United’s football, and the way that they are trying to play, hasn’t suited him.”
Despite the signing of Raphael Varane last summer to complement the skipper and make our defence even better from last season, Maguire has had it worse in this campaign. Quite often, he seems to be brushed aside by stronger opposition attacks, who have gone through him like he wasn’t on the pitch.
Varane himself has not been at his best since his move to Old Trafford, but that does not excuse why Maguire has failed to make it work for himself during this season. The England international was once again the centre of attention against Everton over the weekend, as Anthony Gordon’s strike deflected off the defender and went into the net as the Manchester side lost 1-0.
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Ferdinand may have a point in his analysis, given that Maguire is played in a back-three for England while he forms one half of a centre-back partnership in a back-four for United. The styles of play are much different in both systems, and perhaps this is why the skipper suffers a dip in performance for his club.
Whether this means that the new incoming manager may change the side’s shape to accommodate a back-three from next season to utilise Maguire’s strengths remains to be seen. For now, however, he will have to make do with playing in a back-four and trying to help United finish the season strongly.