Harry Maguire’s pre-match interview before Manchester United played Liverpool was a classic example of a player failing to read the room. His comments on him were frankly stupid, arrogant and they looked even worse after the full-time whistle at Anfield.
Liverpool beat United 4-0 on Tuesday night. That heavy scoreline and the extent of Liverpool’s dominance was depressingly predictable. There was a sad inevitability about the match even before it kicked off, and it developed as most expected. United fans were incensed when Liverpool won 5-0 at Old Trafford, but that anger has now evolved into a sadness.
The United players’ performances have been a stain on the club’s history this season and radical change is needed in the coming months. Ralf Rangnick suggested United could sign up to 10 new players in the summer, but there can’t possibly be enough departures in just one transfer window to satisfy the overhaul that United need. The dressing room is rotten.
READ MORE: Jurgen Klopp offers Manchester United sympathy after Liverpool’s 9-0 wins this season.
Maguire is supposedly the leader of that dressing room. After an exceptional European Championship, the centre-back has endured a nightmare season and his performances by him at that tournament are now a distant memory. You do not suddenly become a bad player, but Maguire has been unable to arrest his awful form of him and his decline has continued. He’s looked average at best.
The centre-back would have received criticism this season regardless, but the £80m transfer fee that he commanded in 2019 — plus the fact he wears the captain’s armband — naturally means he’s subject to increased scrutiny. Maguire certainly hasn’t handled that well.
The captaincy has looked like a burden for Maguire. The expectation of playing for United has perhaps become too much. Maguire has insisted he does not pay attention to criticism but his actions contradict his words. Maguire held his hands to his ears after scoring for England in November in a response to his criticism of him, but he was sent off as United lost 4-1 in the match after the international break. He should recognize that he was pathetic.
Maguire was asked about dealing with criticism ahead of Tuesday’s match and his response was delusional. “This season I’ve had some bad games, but I wouldn’t be playing every game for Manchester United in the starting 11 if I’d been playing bad every game,” Maguire said. “There’s a reason why both managers have put me in the starting 11 every game.
“It’s what I bring to the team, what I bring to the starting 11 , but I do also understand that I’m the captain of this club, I cost a lot of money and when things aren’t going well and we’re granting too many goals, I’m going to get criticized.”
United’s players are rigorously media trained and yet Maguire’s comments were provocative and tone deaf. United fans were angry with the interview ahead of kick-off but those emotions intensified after another gutless performance.
Maguire has been in the starting 11 this season by default, not on merit. His performances of him have been appalling and he’s been way below the level required to represent United — never mind captain the club.
He might have won some credit with supporters if he had used the interview opportunity to be self-critical, however, he chose to launch a self-defence instead. Maguire’s attempt to defend himself failed. There’s a joke in there somewhere.
United fans deserve better than this gutless squad and they deserve a better captain than Maguire. The player should have held himself accountable in the interview and he didn’t. That choice looked even worse following his performance at Anfield. Maguire was guilty for Liverpool’s first goal when being drawn out of position. His indecisiveness of him at that moment proved costly.
Maguire’s interview was an insult to United fans. The lack of self-accountability is frightening and it’s revealing of the mentality within the club’s dressing room. You can’t make such comments when your performances have been so unacceptable.
Maguire has only himself to blame this time.
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