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Manchester United defender Harry Maguire is already repaying Solskjaer’s faith


It was a debut to remember for Manchester United’s new defender Harry Maguire on Sunday.

The England international made the switch from Leicester City to United earlier this month for a fee of £80million.

The move has been one of the most talked about this summer, with a lot of attention on the fee associated with bringing the 26-year-old to Old Trafford. Even in parts of the media, the club has faced ridicule for the price paid to land the defender.

Yet, Maguire silenced the critics after he put in a man of the match display in Sunday’s standout 4-0 victory against Chelsea. Not overwhelmed by making his Old Trafford debut for one of the biggest clubs in the world, he proved a commanding and assured presence in the heart of the defence.

“I call him The Beast” said United midfielder Paul Pogba, who was impressed with the display of his new team-mate. He continued by saying “Honestly, as you saw, he was really impressive. He is a leader. He fit right in with us in training. We talked about controlling the defence well and he has a good understanding with Victor. It was a very good match to start with from the whole team”.

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But what was so impressive about his performance?

Firstly, it’s worth noting that utilising his tall frame and ability in the air, he dealt with almost all long balls played forward by Chelsea and won 6/5 of his aerial duels which averaged out at a success rate of 83.33%. For comparison, Victor Lindelof won just 3/1 of his duels in the air – an average of just 33.33%.

He also proved virtuoso on the ground too, winning 70% of his defensive duels and making a standout 11 interceptions. Again for comparison, Lindelof managed five interceptions and won 58% of his duels on the ground.

His ability in this area was aided by his great tactical understanding – one of his most underrated abilties. An example of this is highlighted below.

 

As Jorginho picks up the ball through the middle, Maguire is tasked with tracking the run of Tammy Abraham. However, note how he is aware of the run of Pedro through the middle.

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Maguire is tasked with tracking the run of Abraham but is aware of the threat of Pedro.
Maguire is tasked with tracking the run of Abraham but is aware of the threat of Pedro.

As the ball is played forward, Maguire quickly springs into action to sprints across to intercept the attempted pass. From here, United can look to build their own counter-attack.

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Maguire steps forward and cuts out the attempted pass
Maguire steps forward and cuts out the attempted pass

Something that has often come into question with Maguire previously is his ability to handle fleet-footed attackers who possess raw pace. Chelsea could boast several players boasting this profile on Sunday however at no point did Maguire look overwhelmed, as we see below.

 

Through some clever short passing, Chelsea bypass the pressure of the United defence and Mason Mount finds himself inside the United half with plenty of space to attack. Note the starting position of Maguire highlighted in red who is five-yards behind Mount.

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Maguire is five yards behind Mount
Maguire is five yards behind Mount

Despite that distance, the defender illustrates really good pace to not only close the gap between him and Mount, but also work himself into a good defensive position to intercept the cross and head the ball out for a corner.

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Maguire closes the space and heads the attempted cross away
Maguire closes the space and heads the attempted cross away
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His composure also stretched into his ability in possession.  He averaged a high 56 passes with a pass success rate of 86%.

This will please Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who has made no secret of the fact that Maguire was his number one target the summer. “I made my mind up then that if it was possible to get him, we would. He was always my No one target,” said the Norwegian.

Now it seems, after a solid first debut, he has already started to repay some of that faith.





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