ARTICLES Opinion

Harry Maguire should benefit from tactical improvement at Manchester United

With new set-piece coach Eric Ramsay already looking to have made a difference at Manchester United, there should be an added benefit for Harry Maguire, who netted yesterday from a corner for England.

The Three Lions cruised past Hungary in their World Cup qualifying match and United’s captain was on the end of Luke Shaw’s corner to head home England’s third of the game. The centre-back had an impressive match for his country and the goal was his second in his last three matches for England — that was set-up by Shaw too.

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While the skipper is known for his aerial strength, he has struggled to convert at the attacking end of the pitch for United since joining the club. While it should not be a priority for a defender to be scoring the goals for their team, Maguire’s dominance in the air could be a real strength for The Reds if they can continue to look strong on offensive set-pieces.

Last season, United were clueless when defending set-pieces and lacklustre when taking corners and free-kicks in advanced areas. This led to United and Ole Gunnar Solskjær appointing Eric Ramsay, who has taken charge of the first-team’s set-pieces. There has already been a visible improvement at the start of this campaign to suggest that whatever Ramsay’s doing is working.

United have conceded two goals in their three opening fixtures — a wonder strike from 25 yards out and a deflected effort from the edge of the box. There has only been one occasion where United looked vulnerable defensively on set-pieces, when Raphaël Varane was outjumped in the area against Wolves, but David de Gea was alert to make a great double save. Other than that, United have been comfortable in that aspect.

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Against Southampton, while points were dropped, United posed a serious threat to The Saints goal through their own set-pieces. This is an encouraging sign for a team that was quite depleted in this aspect last season.

If United continue to improve their offensive set-pieces, you can only imagine that Maguire should be adding some extra goals to his end of season tally. The United captain scored just two goals last season, although he was unfortunate to have a header against Burnley chalked off for a foul.

Often Maguire was on the end of crosses but was unable to find the corners of the net which he seems to do regularly for his country, The centre-back has scored five goals in just 38 appearances for England and it’s clear that he has the capabilities to score a handful of goals a season.

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Goals against Everton in pre-season and Hungary last night suggest a changing trend for the defender’s luck in front of goal.

As Liverpool showed with Virgil Van Dijk two seasons ago, a centre-back chipping in with the goals is a very positive thing. Maguire will be looking at the improvements that Eric Ramsay has brought to the club with the idea that he will personally benefit from them, as we know that the captain loves to celebrate in front of the Old Trafford faithful.

Let’s hope he gets to do that more this season.

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