fading force | 

Former Manchester United defender gives his verdict on Harry Maguire's future

United captain Maguire became a symbol of United’s failure last season, as they served up the most disastrous season of the Premier League era

Kevin Palmer

HE has been cast as one of the fall guys in Manchester United’s demise, yet Harry Maguire can bounce back under new manager Erik ten Hag.

That’s the verdict of former United defender Wes Brown, who has told the Sunday World that the ridicule Maguire received over the last year has been “out of order”.

United captain Maguire became a symbol of United’s failure last season, as they served up the most disastrous season of the Premier League era and finished a distant sixth in the final standings.

Yet Brown has told the Sunday World at a Bookmakers.com event that 29-year-old Maguire could still emerge as the leader Ten Hag badly needs as he looks to rebuild United’s shattered aura.

“Some of the criticism thrown at Maguire was over the top, but this is how football works these days,” said Brown, who started in United’s 2008 Champions League final win against Chelsea

“People get on social media, they start wading into players and momentum builds behind that criticism and Harry has been a victim of that.

“He has been booed by England fans, written off by United supporters on Twitter and it all seems pretty harsh.

“I get it that fans are disappointed, we all were after what we saw last season. So it is inevitable that people will pick out certain players and blame them.

“Maguire has been at the top of that list and I get it. He’s the captain and he hasn’t been playing well, so he will get hammered. “When you are playing for Manchester United, the standards and expectations are on a different level to most other clubs and all of the players didn’t reach that last season.

“We know Harry is a good defender. At the Euros last summer, he was one of the best players in the tournament and that wasn’t long ago.

“There were times in my career when I was playing bad and there is nowhere to hide when you are at a club as big as United. “Now it’s all about how Harry bounces back from the position he finds himself in and I’m sure Ten Hag will want him in his team if the Maguire of 12 months ago is revived.

“I hope Maguire uses this summer to clear his head, come to pre-season with a new mentality and start again.”

Brown believes the leaders that drove United’s success during his time at the club were sadly lacking last season, with Cristiano Ronaldo carrying a team that lacked the guidance provided by great captains such as Roy Keane.

Maguire’s role as United captain highlighted his role in their failure and Brown believes Ten Hag needs to find a leader in the Keane mould to bolster his hopes of success.

“You looked out there last season and I wondered if they had anyone driving them,” added the defender who won five Premier League titles during his time at United.

“Players such as Maguire, Pogba, Cristiano have done so much in the game, but something was sadly lacking and leadership was an issue.

“I played alongside one of the great United captains in Keane and he demanded certain standards from people and that’s what you need at a big club.

“Some people thought Roy went over the top in the way he used to rip into us when we played with him at United, but I never had a problem with it.

“All he is asking for is the basics; work as a team, get stuck in. When we didn’t do that, he couldn’t accept and he would often come in at half-time and hammer us.

“The boss (Alex Ferguson) used to let him do it because he knew we respected Roy and he was part of the manager’s team, but that kind of player has been lacking at United over the last couple of years.

“I see Roy on Sky Sports losing it now and it does make me smile because he is the same guy now as he was 20 years ago in that United dressing room, but home truths need to be spoken.

“If United had someone like Roy Keane raising standards in the dressing room now, maybe the players would have responded because there was a lot of talent in that club.

“The trouble is, attitudes were not right and the mentality of the players was all wrong. That’s what Ten Hag has to fix next season.”

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