In a summer that saw £1.41bn spent on transfers in the Premier League, one move stood out from the rest for several reasons.
Harry Maguire is a homegrown talent, graduating from the Sheffield United youth academy and progressing through to the Premier League with Leicester City. He’s an England international, increasing the interest in the deal and finally; he joined arguably the biggest club in the country.
Playing for Manchester United brings a certain pressure that isn’t as evident at many of the other Premier League clubs. They’re a sleeping giant, and that’s perhaps an odd description for a side that finished second in 2017/18 and qualified for the Champions League, but after Sir Alex Ferguson left they’ve been very underwhelming.
Last season, Jose Mourinho paid the price for a battle with star player Paul Pogba, losing his job in the second half of the season. The BBC suggested players and staff were unhappy with the Mourinho’s approach to management; it’s known many of the supporters were too.
He left a broken squad, weak at the back and lacking leaders. Disruptive players such as Pogba and Alexis Sanchez further degraded the morale of the team. In bringing back Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the manager, the owners hoped to capture some of the success and spirit from his spell as a player.
The central defensive area was certainly one the new manager had to address. An article by the Standard reported that Eric Bailly was dropped by the former manager at the start of last season, with Marcus Rojo and Victor Lindelöf failing to bring the imposing defensive presence a top club needs.
Maguire can add that steel to the United backline. They’ve relied as much on the world-class saves of David De Gea in recent seasons as anything, with their good record in the 2017/18 season as much down to him rather than the defenders in front of him, reports Sports Keeda.
The Red Devils opened the current season with a 4-0 win against Europa League winners Chelsea recently, with the Norwegian manager delighted to have got his season off to a strong start.
bwin Premier League reported on Solskjaer’s comments after United’s opening game. While happy with the win, Solskjaer also said “We’re still a work in progress, we still know we’re not anywhere near the finished article and we have got loads of improvement to be made.”
Maguire had a big impact on the opening fixture. The 26-year-old won more aerial duels than anyone else on the pitch to ruin Frank Lampard’s first game as manager.
Maguire won’t solve all of United’s problems, they’re still light in midfield and will be relying on younger players in key areas, but again Maguire can help there. Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford are all young players who have come out of the academy and Maguire will be a role model for them, having taken a similar route.
His arrival at Old Trafford made a bold statement; Solskjaer knows where he has to strengthen and how he intends to do it. In that respect, he certainly adds significant value to the once-dominant red half of Manchester.