Harry Maguire Is Not Undroppable - Perhaps a Rest Would Be for the Best

Robbie Walls
Harry Maguire was appointed Manchester United captain in January
Harry Maguire was appointed Manchester United captain in January / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images
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Don't let the Twitter naysayers get in your head, Harry Maguire has actually been very good this season.

While the £80m fee may still make even Manchester United fans wince, there is no denying that the Englishman has filled the void left since the days of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. He may not be anywhere near those two great men just yet, but he has emerged as a real rock at the back and a leader in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's improving side.

That being said, everyone can agree he's not exactly been at his best since the restart. United may currently be enjoying a 19-game unbeaten run, but it's been far from smooth sailing for the club's new captain.

His part in Tottenham's goal in the 1-1 draw back in June was perhaps a marker of his lack of pace as well as simply a man beginning to tire - and no surprise considering he's played every minute in the Premier League this season. In the last few fixtures in particular he's looked leggy and lethargic.

Maguire was certainly not at his best against Palace in midweek, with him and Victor Lindelof seemingly competing with each other to see who could gift the south London side a goal first. Luckily for United - and the defensive duo - VAR and Marcus Rashford helped secure all three points, with the hard-fought win somewhat glossing over the shoddy all-round display.

Perhaps there's an argument that a Nemanja Matic-less United offered little protection to the former Leicester man, but even so, it would no doubt have worried Solskjaer to see his defence so regularly troubled by a low-scoring Palace side.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has placed a lot of faith in his new skipper
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has placed a lot of faith in his new skipper / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

It's possible, Maguire is not the man to blame, but his manager. The Norwegian has been reluctant to leave his captain on the bench all season, even when facing so-called lesser sides in the Europa League, FA Cup or Carabao Cup. While it's no doubt a statement of trust and faith in the player, there is surely an argument that this extensive game time is beginning to take its toll.

Why is that he is never given a rest? Well, to put it simply, Solskjaer doesn't have many options, and the ones he does have he just doesn't trust. With Phil Jones nowhere to be seen; Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo out on loan and Axel Tuanzebe shackled to the treatment table, United's centre-back options begin to look a little thin.

With only Eric Bailly, Maguire and Victor Lindelof to choose from ('only' – they did cost a combined £140m) Solskjaer has been forced to essentially pick the same back four week in, week out. Add to that the fact that Bailly is both injury prone and infuriatingly inconsistent - he's either Paolo Maldini or David Luiz, there's no in between - and perhaps its clear why United's £80m man is so frequently used.

Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have not often been used together this season
Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have not often been used together this season / Paul Kane/Getty Images

That being said, with a crucial end to the season already underway, perhaps it is time that the United manager take the risk and leave his captain in the stands. With an FA Cup semi-final to come on Sunday against rivals Chelsea, it could be a good time to test out a Bailly-Lindelof partnership. It's not exactly been hugely successful in the past, but for the good of the team and the player, Maguire needs a wee bit of a rest.

United may decide to dip into the marker to pick up a new centre-back next season in order to help carry the defensive burden, but that's not to suggest Maguire should be out the side. This slight drop-off in form aside, the 26-year-old has been mightily impressive this term and has contributed to the Red Devils conceding just 35 Premier League goals this season - the third lowest in the league.

He undoubtedly deserves more respect from pundits and fans alike, but he also deserves a little bit of time out of the firing line.


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