Harry Maguire’s costly decision ahead of De Bruyne goal
Manchester United’s Harry Maguire had an afternoon to forget against Manchester City on Sunday.
The Red Devils skipper has faced relentless criticism this season as his form has taken a nose dive since Euro 2020, and his performance at the Etihad Stadium has done little to reverse the trend.
Nonetheless, Maguire was certainly not alone in United’s defensive problems, as Ralf Rangnick’s setup for the derby game crumbled in just five minutes of action.
Man City 4-1 Manchester United
The sight of Kevin De Bruyne waving across the net just as United had barely had a chance to string a few passes together was a real blow to any hopes of an upset victory on the road.
And although Jadon Sancho appeared to have brought the visitors back into the game with a classy strike against his former employers, City were quick to regain their lead.
That’s because De Bruyne pocketed his second of the game in a bizarre pinball-like passage from the penalty box in which moments of brilliance intermingled with mournful noises.
For every split second that left fans mesmerized by Phil Foden’s magnificent touch, there was an inexplicable reminder of United’s defensive ineptitude as they pounded the ball away.
And the nail in United’s coffin when it comes to City’s second goal of the night came, you guessed it, their own skipper, who didn’t cover himself in glory after David de Gea made a stop.
Maguire slammed for decision-making
While criticism of Maguire can sometimes turn into cruel hyperbole, there’s no denying that footage of him letting the ball go between his legs before De Bruyne doubles his money is painful to watch.
In the words of journalist DaveOCKOP on Twitter at the time“Please watch that goal again. Maguire, with his back to goal, let the ball go under his legs in danger instead of just kicking it in for a corner.
The Old Trafford faithful were imploring the England man to give the ball away for a corner, only to see him produce a bizarre pivot that sealed United’s fate and you can check it out below:
Mental how bad it is. pic.twitter.com/At4ogpHkEt
– Langaz* (@Langaz997) March 6, 2022
Ole and anyone involved in signing Maguire will pay for their crimes pic.twitter.com/8yVdKBhRLz
— FOTG-LUHG4 (@FOTG16) March 6, 2022
Harry Maguire…. pic.twitter.com/1fNRxlT8Zg
— 🥷𝗛𝐢𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐬𝐮𝐤𝐢.⑦ (@HiroLaB92) March 6, 2022
Harry Maguire just makes me laugh man 😭 pic.twitter.com/jKVJUtinYb
– 𝓛𝓮𝓮🍊 (@IeeSZN) March 6, 2022
Ouch. It must sting.
Worrying times for Maguire
The ball obviously came back in Maguire’s direction at a knot pace, but it was certainly surprising not to see at least the suggestion of an attempt to hook the ball away from the danger zone.
But no matter how guilty you might think Maguire was in the immediate build-up to De Bruyne’s double, the 29-year-old’s criticism is nevertheless worrying and symptomatic of his season as a whole.
While Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Paul Pogba also endured scorching afternoons at the Etihad, Maguire’s lukewarm performance against bitter rivals United was alarmingly unsurprising.
Like it or not, Maguire is nothing short of a world-class centre-half when playing his best football and we have no doubt he can return to the form that saw United break a record. people to sign it.
However, even Maguire’s staunchest defenders – of which I myself have often been one – have to admit that the 2021/22 season marked a troubling nadir in his career at Old Trafford.
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