The important thing to understand about statistics is that correlation does not always equate to causation. However, the role of a catalyzing influence cannot be ignored either and in that case, numbers do make a strong argument about the cohesiveness of a unit and the changes made in it.
A similar strain of effect seems to be at play for Manchester United and their defensive pursuits.
Despite shelling out enormous sums of money in the summer for defensive arrivals – namely the world record fee of €87 million for Harry Maguire and the €55 million invested in the indomitable Aaron Wan-Bissaka, their defensive merits have been met with heavy critique.
However, as of recent, the club’s numbers at the back have seen a steady positive rise and this may be attributed to one feat.
Maguire being named the captain after Ashley Young’s departure in the winter transfer window was certainly met with a mixed response.
There were many who trolled the dwindling number of cleansheets in the initial half of the season as well as singling out errors that the former Leicester City centre-back made to cement their point.
However, this positive run of games combined with a fluid and nearly impenetrable backline has made the case for Maguire’s captaincy, especially since it was unprecedented for the club to hand the role to such a new arrival.
The discipline that United now have proves the trust Ole Gunnar Solskjaer placed on the Englishman to be an apt one and then some.
Of course, the true test of Maguire’s captaincy will only be meted out over the long run and fans will always be wondering if he’ll be the one to next lift a major trophy for Manchester United, a feat that last Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra performed into the hands of Sir Alex Ferguson with the Premier League title in 2013.