For once since the season restart, Maguire can see it as a blessing that King Power Stadium is empty, so local fans won’t be able to recreate the song intended for him at Old Trafford in September, sounding catchy. Essentially suggesting that Caglar Soyuncu’s form meant they weren’t missing their England international, only in a little simpler terms.
On paper, Leicester don’t appear to have missed Maguire, with a Champions League qualification still a possibility before the last day of the season, but assessing the 26-year-old’s first season at Old Trafford is much more difficult.
If Maguire finishes the game on Sunday, he will have played every minute of his first Premier League season as a United player, while his influence as a leader on and off the pitch was so impressive that he was named captain. from the club in January when Ashley Young moved to. Inter Milan.
United’s defensive record also improved for his arrival. With one game to play, United have conceded 18 fewer goals than during all of last season. So far, they are averaging slightly less than one goal per game against and have conceded just one more goal than Manchester City and three more than Liverpool.
But are United’s defense as secure as these numbers suggest? And has Maguire been the £ 80million defensive transformation United expected? The jury is still pretty much on.
There have been defensive moments since the restart where Maguire hasn’t covered himself in glory, especially in goals Steven Bergwijn scored for Tottenham and Junior Stanislas of Bournemouth, and he looked shaken at times, almost trying to cover too much land to get out. fires in various parts of United’s defense.
Maguire rarely looked edgy at Leicester, but a big part of it was that he had developed a good understanding with Jonny Evans, who didn’t make his colleague’s headlines but was arguably equally impressive in the center of defense.
At United, Maguire has not yet reached the same level of agreement with Victor Lindelof. The Swede has started alongside the £ 80million man in 34 of United’s 37 Premier League games, but the partnership still doesn’t feel entirely natural, at least not on the same level as Maguire and Evans.
How United will solve this problem will be fascinating. That doesn’t necessarily mean more investment in another center-back, although there is clearly a school of thought that a left-foot option would not only help build play from the back, but could complement Maguire as well. .
The alternative is simply to give Lindelof and Maguire some time. There is no doubt that United’s defense has improved over the course of this season and the more they train and play together the greater this understanding will become. It’s worth keeping in mind that United have had two new players in their four full-backs this season, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka also signing last summer, while the left-back position was shaky for the first half of the season.
As the four regular-backs settle into a rhythm, understanding should improve, but while Maguire’s first season at Old Trafford has been a success in many ways, he has yet to forge a partnership that seems here to stay long term.