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Harry Maguire’s pressing problem

Harry Maguire’s pressing problem


Harry Maguire has made some high profile mistakes for Manchester United recently, despite excellent performances for England. What’s gone wrong?


Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world of football.

Today, why does Harry Maguire perform better for England than he does for Manchester United?


It’s just seven months since England reached the final of Euro 2020. 

Once the disappointment of defeat to Italy had faded a little, there was plenty of praise for the team’s performance throughout the tournament.

One of the players who received plaudits was centre-back Harry Maguire.

“I don’t think Harry’s ever played to the level that he’s at in the last couple of weeks. I think since he’s come in against the Czech Republic, he hasn’t put a foot wrong. He’s been absolutely superb in every department and shown what a great leader…”


Former Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand said that Harry Maguire had been a “man mountain” in an England shirt. 


Now the Euros are over, Harry Maguire is back playing for his club, Manchester United.

They drew 1-1 with Burnley last weekend. The Burnley equaliser was pinned on a Harry Maguire error. And that led to a pretty awkward post-match interview.

“We’ve got to be a little bit more clinical from everybody.”

“Yeah, a bit of a flaw in the defence for that equaliser, they came out with intensity and of course Rodriguez runs across your line there.”

“Yeah it was a disappointing goal on our behalf to concede. I mean straight after half time we come out and we were really sloppy, we gave the ball away two or three times in the first couple of minutes and we invited a lot of pressure and obviously it was a last man challenge so I didn’t want to make the tackle…I…I obviously David was so close to saving it but it was a good finish b ut…”

BT Sport

In that interview, Harry Maguire repeatedly said the reason United didn’t take all three points was that the forwards didn’t take their chances during a dominant first half. 

But Harry Maguire did make an error that led to the Burnley goal. And it wasn’t the first time it had happened. 

United fans are unhappy with his performance. 


“When you’re the team Captain, walk out and say do you know what, as Manchester United Captain, I need to be better. As Manchester United Captain, that is on me.”

Stretford Paddock

Some more so than others.

“I’m sick to the back teeth of him. I’m being honest. He’s not an 80 million pound player, he’s not Captain material. And whoever the new manager is…will you be part of the squad? I for one hope not cos I’m sick of mistakes. I’m sick of mistake after mistake.”

Stretford Paddock

But what does the boss make of Harry Maguire’s performance?


Ralf Rangnick has only been in charge of Manchester United for the last ten Premier League games. In that time, United have lost only once. But they have drawn four times. He was asked about Harry Maguire after that game against Burnley…

“Well I think after he came back after his injury, he did extremely well. He had a very good performance, a very good game against West Ham. In the last two games, yeah, he had some weaker moments, both against Southampton and when we conceded the goal at Burnley, but again, he’s our Captain and I don’t see any reason to change that.” 

Sky Sports

A possible answer to why Harry Maguire is struggling came earlier in that same press conference. Ralf Rangnick explained that he is trying to implement a more pressing style at United.

That means even the defenders have to play further up the pitch. The problem with such a high line is that even a slight error can be fatally exposed. 

One slip, and the forward is suddenly in on goal. 

Manchester United’s owners want the manager  to make a huge cultural shift at the club. 

They’ve gone from a novice in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to a man with complex tactical ideas. 

Ralf Rangnick will implement his philosophy throughout the club when he moves into an upstairs role next season, and will choose a first team coach to work under him. 

It seems like Harry Maguire is taking some time to adjust to playing in a back four who press, in contrast to a back three who sit much deeper for England.

And United did keep a clean sheet versus Brighton in midweek.

Manchester United fans have been waiting a long time for the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson to return. 

But Ralf Rangnick’s work will take time. 

In the meantime, do they really want to make their Captain the fall guy?


Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford and produced by Chloe Beresford and Hannah Varrall.