The out of form Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has been publicly backed by his manager Erik ten Hag.
The England international started the season as Ten Hag’s captain but after defeats to Brighton and Brentford in the opening two games was dropped and the captaincy handed to Bruno Fernandes.
With Maguire out of the side United have gone on a run of four consecutive wins in the Premier League, conceding just two goals and keeping two clean sheets, to lift themselves from the bottom of the table to fifth.
The focus on Maguire intensified in the last week when he was on international duty and made two costly mistakes in England’s 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley stadium.
However, the United manager has offered Maguire some timely support. “I have to back him. But I back him because I believe in him. In the period I have worked with him, his pre-season was good, I would say really good, in training and in games,” Ten Hag said at a press conference on Friday.
“Then he falls out of the side, but that is also to do with the good performance of the centre-backs that are playing now. But I can see the qualities and even after he was not in the team, he trained really well.”
“But more importantly, the quality was really there and you see his career, he has almost 50 caps for England. With Leicester, with Man United, he’s performing really well so what you see is he has a high potential. And then it’s about him.”
“The players in the dressing room, the coaches, the manager, we all believe in him. And now it’s about him and that is what I told him. I’m sure he will do it and he will turn around, I’m really convinced of that.”
“I think [Maguire] is doing quite well, but for every player, there is room for improvement. If he believes in his skills, he will be quickly back on the level, even more than he did. Once again, I am convinced of that, because I see his capabilities, it’s really high.”
Maguire is currently injured and will miss United’s trip to face Manchester City this Sunday in what is their first Premier League game for nearly a month.
“Our approach is to first look at ourselves,” Ten Hag said. “And the approach for Man United is we want to win every game, and that message I’ve already told several times here. The aim for Sunday is nothing else.”
“We have to perform our best and we have to put out of our way of playing, our rules, our principles, we have to do our best and of course we will make a good game plan and then it’s about the execution, and we have to do it. We know that if we want to get a result, we have to do it 100 per cent well.”
“I played in many derbies and know what they are. With rivals, what they do with each other, and I know it’s the most important game in the Manchester area for the fans. It excites me. You want to be involved in these games, because it gives a good vibe, it gives so much energy. You do everything to win that game.”
United’s defenders will be tasked with stopping the City striker Erling Haaland, who has already scored 14 goals in just 10 games in all competitions this season.
“We don’t play against Haaland, we play against Manchester City,” Ten Hag said. “They have a team and more than 11 players, but we do as well. We are convinced of our capabilities and if we act as a team in and out of possession, then you can beat such opponents. That is the belief, where we have to get with us when we line up, when we start the game and we need it over more than the 90 minutes.”
Ten Hag was awarded the Premier League’s Manager of the Month award for September after wining both of his games last month. This represented an impressive and quick comeback after he had lost his two opening games in August.
“I think we played really good in pre-season, so then in the first two games, we had our head down. You see already the base we made in pre-season, then we win obviously four games in the Premier League, so we are happy with that but also we still see lacks in our game, we have to improve and that’s what we are working on, day by day.”