Monday 12 August 2019

Harry Maguire the centre-back Manchester United have been crying out for

Harry Maguire looked like he had playing for Manchester United forever. A stunning debut, during which he blocked, tackled, headed and distributed his way to Sky's Man on the Match award, showed exactly why United had made him the world's most expensive defender.

He powered every header ­forward, brought the ball out from the back, won everything in the air, read the ­danger and intervened.
He was pointing, leading and cajoling like a United captain-in-waiting, even though David De Gea wore the armband.
The way he wrestled with Tammy Abraham to win the ball and set United going forward in the 65th minute was typical. That intervention began the move which set up the second goal. Alongside the unheralded but equally as impressive Victor Lindelof, United's fire-and-ice partnership was reminiscent of the halycon days of Messrs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Best of all, there was not a Chuckle Brother in sight. United have not had such a physically commanding presence at the back since Rio and Vida left Old Trafford half a decade ago. He is the centre-back we've desperately needed and been crying out for.

Lindelof continues to go from strength to strength but needed someone alongside him to do the dirty work, to clean up in the air and organise the defensive unit. Maguire is that man. 

Maguire's England team-mate Rashford may have grabbed the plaudits with his brace but the Yorkshireman's authoritative performance underlined why his new boss wanted him above getting the big name midfield or striking reinforcements so many United fans have demanded on social media.
His calmness under pressure helped ensure that when the home side looked shaky in the first half they did not add to their concerns with self-inflicted mistakes.
Maguire was happy to keep it simple in possession and push the ball on to Paul Pogba when he could, and had the awareness to spot team-mates in trouble, something former United boss Jose Mourinho rather churlishly said on TV might be frequently needed in the case of Luke Shaw. Mourinho must have wondered about what might have been.

Had he got his way a year ago he might have still been on the touchline at Old Trafford.
He identified Maguire as the man Manchester United needed to move on from the second placed finish the season before.
They did not get him, Mourinho’s mood darkened and never lifted.
Leicester wanted £70million and United thought it was too much.
They have him now at a cost of £80m and he took to life as a Red Devil yesterday seamlessly.
The game was still in the balance when Maguire stepped up to challenge Abraham on the edge of the United box. Maguire calmly took possession, leaving Abraham on the floor in the process, and strode away, setting in motion the attack that ended with  Anthony Martial bundling home.

Maguire's stats against Chelsea make for impressive reading - a pass accuracy of 86%, seven clearances, five out of five aerial duels won, four interceptions, two blocks, a clean sheet and one chance created.

The Premier League season may only be 90 minutes old, there's a lot of football to be played and twists and turns aplenty to come our way, but if Maguire continues to play like this, the question marks over his price will be dispelled quickly.

The Slabhead Cometh.

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