When England announced their line-up for the World Cup opener against Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium, Harry Maguire took center stage, but after 90 minutes, Manchester United had been handed the blueprint they needed to rejuvenate their £80 million captain..
Maguire was backed by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate despite falling behind Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, and Victor Lindelof in the defensive pecking order since Erik ten Hag’s appointment as manager at Old Trafford in the summer. He not only made their 26-man squad, but was also named to their starting XI on Monday afternoon for their Group B opener against Iran..
Given his domestic struggles – or, at the very least, lack of game time – one selection raised eyebrows prior to the game, but Maguire went on to completely justify that selection. He hit the crossbar with a header and also assisted Bukayo Saka as England cruised to a 6-2 victory in their eye-catching Group B opener.
Maguire, 29, was forced off late in the game and has since clarified that concerning substitution. Meanwhile, if he continues to perform on the field, the centre-back could prove Jamie Carragher wrong and use this tournament as a springboard for his Old Trafford career, which Carragher previously stated is over.
Earlier this season, in his Daily Telegraph column about Maguire, the Liverpool hero said:
“At the club level, I believe it is too late. Last year, I wrote that he was fighting for his Manchester United career.
He needs this to be his final season at Old Trafford before moving on. It is now England’s problem.
I felt sorry for Maguire during the last two [England] games [in September]. But that is not a good look for any athlete. Sympathy will not restore him to his former self.”
Sympathy was not required, but confidence was, as Alan Shearer pointed out in his pre-match analysis for the Iran game on BBC Sport. Southgate appears to have given him that, and the two of them have offered Ten Hag a plan to follow back at him..
Shearer continued: “I can’t tell you how much that meant to me [being backed by Terry Venables for England].
“I hadn’t scored for England in two years, but I was on the scoresheet for Blackburn. Wright, Cole, Ferdinand, Sheringham, Fowler, all of these players were putting me under pressure, making it easier for the manager [to drop him for Euro 1996].
But he drew me aside and told me, ‘You will be my number one center-forward.’ You will begin the first game..
‘Wow, I can’t let you down, and I owe you,’ I said to Terry. If Harry had been named to that team, he would have looked at the manager and said, ‘Thank you, I owe you.’
Maguire’s United fans will be hoping that this is the confidence boost he needs to get his United career back on track.
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