Lost The Armband And His Way: Is There Light In The Darkness For Harry Maguire?

Maguire lost the captaincy this week...
15:01, 21 Jul 2023

The silence must be deafening in Harry Maguire’s house.

It’s bad enough that Manchester United’s now ex-captain is being forced to watch his career being steadily anaesthetised at Old Trafford.

But when even the Saudis aren’t interested it is time to take a long look in the mirror and see just where you are at.


Maguire is just about the only Premier League footballer in his 30s who hasn’t been tapped up by the super-rich soccer Sheikhs who are shelling out millions to offer a final luxury resting place to every cast off from the top six.

Jordan Henderson, Riyad Mahrez, half the Chelsea squad. They are all out there in the desert with Cristiano Ronaldo playing League One level football for stellar wages .

All the while Maguire sits at home staring at his phone, waiting for a call to change his life and pondering where it has all gone wrong.

The one-time £80 million defender is an honest type and would probably admit the last couple of years haven’t been the best by his standards - but he is not alone there.

He only needs to glance up from the floor and across the dressing room to clock that team-mate Jadon Sancho has hardly set the world alight.

At Manchester City, serious questions were being asked about John Stones a year ago.

Yet Stones was lucky enough to have a manager that remained patient and slowly but surely gave one of England’s most composed centre backs time to regain his confidence and eventually reinvent himself.

Just a few miles across town Maguire has been slowly but surely edged towards the door in a way that only professional sport can deal with those considered surplus to requirements but who haven’t done anything wrong.

In any other industry, Maguire would have a case for constructive dismissal.

If you worked as a bank manager and over time were systematically downgraded instead of looking after thousands of pounds each day there would be cause for concern.

If one day head office announces somebody else is taking over and from now on you are tidying the stationery cupboard, it’s off to an industrial tribunal.

As recently as May, Ten Hag went public and declared that Maguire had a ‘decision to make’ on his future at Manchester United. The first the player knew about that was reading it in print.

The cameo two minute performance in the Carabao Cup, bringing on the mothballed skipper as a token gesture and letting him lift the trophy - jointly - is not a tribute, it’s a slick way to make Maguire appear like a cherished old soldier.

But that’s what football clubs do to retiring legends on their final day, not someone who wasn’t even 30 at the time.


It’s interesting that Bruno Fernandes, the man who held the cup aloft with Maguire that Sunday afternoon at Wembley, has now taken his job full time.

Yet still Maguire has refused to criticise the club. And don’t imagine for one second that he has stopped trying. He is not that kind of a man.

Fifty five games in his first season after joining from Leicester and taking on the armband at the biggest club in this country and some argue the world. Some responsibility that.

If it has been downhill on the field since then that doesn’t make him a bad person.

When widely pilloried for mistakes during England’s chaotic 3-3 Nations League draw with Germany last September, ‘Slab Head’ volunteered to front up and talk to the media and address the problem.

There’s a solidity about Maguire that clubs like Manchester United and others in the Premier League should be tapping into. So far only West Ham are interested parties with the limp suggestion of a loan.

It’s entirely possible that Maguire has lost his way on a football pitch, that can happen. But he deserves better treatment as a person.

Perhaps it is a back-handed compliment that he is not attracting interest from the Saudis. Maybe he is still good.

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