Manchester United’s defensive woes have plagued them since the very beginning of the 2018/19 campaign. They currently sit at -1 goal difference in the Premier League with 21 goals conceded 13 games into the campaign. Their 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace was their first clean sheet in any competition in nearly 2 months, and even in that match Palace looked more likely to score at times. What’s worse, Victor Lindelöf, the more consistent of the Lindelof-Smalling partnership, appears to have suffered a fairly serious injury. United’s options are limited, and the fans, and probably José Mourinho, are desperate for reinforcements. One man who has been linked with United since the World Cup, and could very well be the long awaited heir to Nemanja Vidić, is Harry Maguire.
Maguire, AKA the English Vidić by this writer, and soon by you, has had a brilliant 2018. His emergence as an elite Premier League defender has helped fill the gap left by N’golo Kanté, and his services also helped Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions side navigate their way to the World Cup Semi-Finals this past summer. He’s strong, intelligent, good in the air, and can pass out from the back to trigger a counter attack.
If you’re unconvinced of his abilities, feel free to go through his highlights. Here’s a collection of some from the 2017/18 season (via Scouting Football):
Maguire succeeded in over 70% of his tackles last season, and is also frequently involved in Leicester’s buildup play. His ability to recover, win the ball back, and accurately clear it would be vital to a United back line that has lacked in all of those areas this season.
Maguire is currently injured, and it caused him to miss his England duties as well as most of Leicester’s November fixtures. It might also not be a fitting moment for him to leave the Foxes just yet. Emotions have been high at the club following the tragic helicopter crash that killed 5 people, including beloved club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. January might be too soon to attempt a move for the Englishman, but the severity of the situation in defense may call for it. Maguire and Spurs center back Toby Alderweireld are popular targets among the United fans, and Mourinho needs to move quickly to save his United career.
The comparison to Vidić certainly comes from his physical style and eye for goal from set pieces, and perhaps from wearing the no. 15 as well, but the comparison is also to point out the kind of potential Maguire has. United have struggled to find consistency in defense since the days of Vidić and Rio Ferdinand, and now even Eric Bailly has lost the manager’s trust. United need experience and depth to replenish their injury stricken back line, and Harry Maguire is an ideal candidate to provide that.