Harry Maguire is a defender that splits opinion in many ways, but the buildup to Euro 2020 is starting to shift the tide into his favour.
Maybe it was the world-record price tag that caused people to expect more from him, but it always seemed like one half of football fans did not rate the Englishman very highly.
Of course, there have been many reasons and instances to criticise him over, but his improvement in the last 12 months cannot be ignored.
The centre-back has become one of the most influential players in England’s starting XI and – by no exaggeration – makes the defence better singlehandedly.
In the last 6 months especially, the former Leicester City man has stepped up as a leader in defence and as a leader of the team. And according to Gareth Southgate, being named the skipper of United brought this change about.
“We’ve noted over the last 12 months, but certainly the last six months, how when you become the captain of Manchester United the impact that must have on your confidence, and the improvement in his leadership and his desire to step forward and have an influence on the wider group shines through,” elaborated the gaffer.
The defender showed his mettle against the Czech Republic in an admirable performance in defence whilst also making sure his distribution contributed to the attack. This is a testament to how much confidence the towering centre-back is playing with. Tuesday’s game was a perfect example of the England international’s improvement.
Southgate’s theory might be accurate after all, because the confidence level oozing out from the United captain is very apparent. One thing is for sure, whatever brought out this change has done only good for the 28-year-old.
If things keep going this way, there would not be any doubt in anyone’s mind regarding his quality.