Harry Maguire has been ruled out of the Manchester derby, but Erik ten Hag says belief is the key formula for Maguire to get back to form.
Maguire started both of England’s games during the international break. And he was at fault in the 3-3 draw with Germany, giving away a penalty and losing possession high up the field to allow Germany to score their second goal.
The Guardian gave him a 3/10 score and that may well have been harsh. But the 29-year-old certainly looked rusty and it’s no surprise giving his game time at United. Ten Hag dropped the defender after the defeat at Brentford in August and Maguire has been on the bench ever since.
That has left him without any Premier League game time, although he did play 90 minutes against Real Sociedad at the start of September.
Maguire returned to Carrington on Friday morning, but he has been ruled out of the Manchester derby through injury. The former Leicester man picked up an injury late at Wembley but carried on and played through the pain.
Harry Kane said Maguire was “playing on one leg” in the final moments against Germany and it’s that muscle injury which has prevented him from being fit to face City.
It’s highly unlikely that Ten Hag would have brought Maguire in from the cold. Rafael Varane and Lisandro Maritinez have forged a solid partnership at the heart of United’s backline. But Maguire’s injury means Ten Hag has had another awkward decision taken away from him.
Asked whether Ten Hag has to be protective of Maguire given how much negative press he has been receiving, he said: “I have to coach him and back him. I back him because I believe in him.
“I can see his qualities. The quality is there. Almost 50 caps for England, he has high potential. Then it is about him. We all believe in him.
“It is an aspect of top football, it is an aspect of our work. We set conditions for that, we also have experts about.
Ten Hag happy he chose Man Utd
“He (Maguire) is doing quite well, but there is always room for improvement. If he believes in his own skills he will be back, and I am convinced of that. His abilities are really high.”
As Ten Hag prepares for his first Manchester derby, he was reminded about what Pep Guardiola said earlier this year.
Guardiola endorsed the Dutchman as a strong candidate to take over when he steps away from The Etihad.
“Could Erik ten Hag be here at City? Definitely. I think he could be the one,” said Guardiola in April.
Ten Hag though was cool and took the question in his stride.
“It’s a nice compliment, first, but I’m 100 per cent convinced I choose Manchester United with everything in it and I didn’t regret it for one second,” said Ten Hag.