“Different Harry Maguire” – Ten Hag has changed his opinion on Man Utd defender

Man Utd's Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

Michael Regan/Pool via REUTERS

Man Utd captain Harry Maguire is starting to find his feet under Erik ten Hag.

The Englishman was expected to play an important role in the former Ajax manager’s Man Utd rebuild because of his ability in possession.

Ten Hag’s decision to shift the right-footed centre-back to the right side of the defence in pre-season and the signing of left-footed Lisandro Martinez further underlined the importance of defenders finding better angles in possession in the Dutch tactician’s system.

Regardless, the first and foremost task of any centre-back is to keep attackers at bay. In Manchester United’s opening two Premier League games, the backline conceded six goals, forcing Ten Hag to replace Maguire with Raphael Varane, who is a more agile defender.

Ten Hag has changed his opinion on Man Utd defender Harry Maguire

But in the second half of the season, the Frenchman’s weaknesses with the ball at his feet have come to the fore. Meanwhile, Maguire, in the limited opportunities he is being handed at Man Utd, is lately replicating the performance that convinced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to break the transfer record for a defender in 2019.

“I think this is a different Harry Maguire [to] what I have seen in the first weeks, months,” the United boss said following the 2-0 win over Everton. “He’s taken so much initiative, dominating his opponent, stepping in, bringing passes. So a really great performance from Harry.”

Against Everton, fans at Old Trafford were treated to a complete CB performance from the 30-year-old.

Not only Maguire, along with Martinez, made David de Gea’s afternoon comfortable by allowing just one shot on target, he also helped open Everton’s defence with his precise diagonal balls to Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

In Maguire’s last four starts in the Premier League, the Red Devils have kept four clean sheets. Stats like this and commanding performances akin to the one we saw against Everton, have changed Ten Hag’s opinion, and could also affect his long-term future at Man Utd.