Harry Maguire is a staunch defender with a commanding presence; he is a world-class addition to any backline. After Ashley Young was sold on to Inter Milan, Maguire was chosen to be the new captain for Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided that the Englishman, affectionately nicknamed “Slabhead” for his larger than normal skull and his prowess with headers on set pieces, ought to be the incumbent captain at United.
It appears to have been a wise decision thus far. He has made an emphatic statement to the club and its’ fans with his recent play. Since sliding on the captain’s armband against Liverpool, Maguire has become more confident with his feet, buried a couple of picturesque goals, and emerged as a confident leader with physicality and swagger.
Following his laser header that cannoned into the far post during a crucial away victory at Stamford Bridge, he gallivanted toward the touchline in front of the United fans and leapt into the air before striking a heroic pose. The team leapt on his shoulders and swarmed his large figure as the fans went wild, just mere feet away.
It was an important moment: it signified a prominent shift in leadership. His face oozed with confidence and the header was glanced menacingly into the far post with extreme accuracy. The strong and sure-footed defender is grabbing United by the scruff of the neck and setting an example: as true leaders do.
United’ s backline, which has arguably been woeful for quite a while, has seen massive upgrades with the additions of Maguire and his teammate at right back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Maguire has 45 interceptions, 109 clearances, 119 aerial duels won, 109 accurate long balls, and has bagged two goals and an assist along the way in his short stint with the club thus far (26 games).
Studying his contributions from game to game, Maguire is a sure footed and physical centre-back with the ability to stab at and dislodge the ball from defenders with both feet effectively. He has high football IQ as well, often positioning himself exceptionally to either meet attackers at their point of progress or step in front of them as passes arrive.
He is a serviceable dribbler, often stroking the ball down field with his head up, using mainly his right foot, before delivering a crisp pass. On top of all of that, he is lauded as an exceptional aerial defender: evident in his 119 aerial battles won, compared to his 49 aerial battles lost.
Harry Maguire is well on his way to not only deserving the captaincy but maintaining it for some time. While he looked comfortable playing alongside United centre-back Victor Lindelöf for the majority of his time with United thus far, he looked even more comfortable alongside Eric Bailly, the spry and dynamic centre-back from the Ivory Coast – a former signing of Jose Mourinho.
As a team, there appears to be more composure with Maguire leading the back line. This confidence trickles down, supplementing the expectations of the coaching staff, surely, and it’s widely felt amongst the United fanbase. A captain should inspire confidence and change, while shouldering the club’s primary leadership role with tenacity. Harry Maguire has done exactly that.
Written by Christopher Michael Eithun