Erik ten Hag raises eyebrows after claiming Harry Maguire ‘did a great job’ as Man Utd skipper in worst PL season ever

Harry Maguire, Man Utd defender during Premier League match v Liverpool

Erik ten Hag admits he is looking forward to working with Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire next season, describing the defender as a ‘great player’ who ‘did a great job’ this term.

United officially unveiled their new manager to the media on Monday in his first press conference. The 52-year-old is taking over from interim boss Ralf Rangnick, who limped out of the dugout with another poor result.

Indeed, Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace was their 12th of the season for the Red Devils.

Ten Hag appears to have a big rebuilding job on his hands. Indeed, a separate report on Monday claimed the Dutchman will get rid of 10 players this summer to lessen the club’s massive wage bill.

But one player who looks set to stay is club captain Maguire, despite a tough campaign for the England man.

The Red Devils centre-back has come under huge criticism this season for his below-par performances. Indeed, there have even been calls for him to be stripped of the captaincy.

However, Ten Hag has confirmed that Maguire is part of his plans, despite his struggles.

Indeed, he took things a step further by talking up the 29-year-old qualities and what is seemingly a confidence-building exercise.

Maguire place is safe at United

Asked whether Maguire will retain the captaincy, Ten Hag said: “I have to repeat: next season is a different season. But I think he did a great job, he is a great player.

“He has achieved a lot, also the contribution to Man United. So I’m looking forward to working with him.”

While Maguire will be one of the senior players staying, the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic are all set to depart in a major Old Trafford rebuild.

Ten Hag is said to have his own ideas over where he wants to strengthen. Indeed, a new centre-back, a right-back, a central midfielder and a forward are all priorities.

Taking captaincy away could release Maguire shackles

While it looks almost certain that Maguire will still be at Old Trafford next season, the best thing that Ten Hag could do is take the captaincy away from him.

From the outside looking in, it almost appears that the burden is too great and that Maguire could actually thrive without that added responsibility.

Evidence of that is his performances for England, where Maguire has been outstanding for several years.

With Harry Kane leading the Three Lions it just means Maguire can concentrate on being the leader of the defence and focus on what he is best at.

Candidates for the role are not immediately obvious though, with Bruno Fernandes stepping in previously.

However, the Portuguese playmaker tends to lose his head in the heat of the battle – not a good trait for a captain to have.

Ten Hag may look to go down the homegrown route to appease the fans, with Scott McTominay an obvious choice. But there is no guarantee the Scotland international will be a regular starter for the Red Devils once the Dutchman starts bringing in new signings.

READ MORE: Ten Hag takes Van Gaal to task over reality of what new Man Utd manager is in for