How Harry Maguire can regain his status as a regular Man Utd starter has been detailed by Wes Brown who suggested Erik ten Hag’s decision has paid off so far.
Eyebrows were raised when Manchester United splashed out £56.7m to sign Lisandro Martinez this summer. The Argentine’s abilities as a defender weren’t in question. Indeed, he ahs seven caps for his national side and more than proved his worth to Ten Hag in Amsterdam.
However, his much talked about 5ft 9in height churned up questions as to where exactly he would play.
Arsenal were in the mix and reportedly had plans to convert him into a left-back before landing Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Martinez operated as a holding midfielder on occasion at Ajax, though since moving to Old Trafford, he’s played exclusively at centre-back.
His height has been a relative non-factor thus far and in partnering Raphael Varane, he ousted club captain Harry Maguire from the eleven.
Maguire remains a key cog in the wheel for Gareth Southgate and England.
However, if he continues to warm the bench at United, he runs the risk of losing his place at the most inopportune time with the World Cup less than two months away.
Now, speaking via the Mirror, former United defender, Wes Brown, explained what Maguire must do to win back his place.
Martinez-Varane pairing can be broken
Given United will play practically twice a week every week until the World Cup, rotation and the cups will give Maguire a chance to shine.
Brown suggested Maguire simply must take those chances when they come and cannot view his demotion as an obstacle that can’t be overcome through hard work and solid displays.
“It has been difficult for Harry,” admitted Brown. “Last season was very poor defensively and a lot of blame got put on him for that, but I’m pretty sure if you ask him he knows he can play better.
“But at the moment the manager has chopped and changed, but likes the Martinez-Varane shout. I’ve been there myself, but it is one of those where you’ve got to keep battling on.
“I’m pretty sure Harry will go to England and focus on getting his game right and when he gets his next chance he’s just got to take it.”
However, Brown did admit Ten Hag’s preferred pairing of Varane and Martinez are “going very well.”
As such, given the new manager has already made the big call of dropping Maguire, the England international’s task could be doubly difficult.
Brown continued: “There are combinations that work, they take a while to sort out as the manager decides what’s best, but the Martinez-Varane is going very well.”
Is Maguire issue overblown?
A player being dropped to the bench in favour of a new signing would ordinarily not be the biggest news story in the world.
However, the focus United receive, as well as Maguire’s status as an England international and United captain have ensured it’s generated traction in the media.
Brown went on to suggest Maguire being ousted isn’t as big of a deal as some are making it out to be.
Explaining why, he cited his own personal experience of being chopped and changed by Sir Alex Ferguson in the years prior to the Ferdinand-Vidic tandem forming.
Prior to that duo, Ferguson rarely had a settled pairing for long, often partnering Feridnand with different players such as Brown, John O’Shea or Mikael Silvestre.
“I know people make a big thing out of it, but in my day it was like that (changes in selection) all the time, until you got the [Rio] Ferdinand-[Nemanja] Vidic partnership,” added Brown.
“We were pretty much swapping quite often with the manager always seeking that right connection.”