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Manchester United defender happy to play despite going against Erik ten Hag’s “philosophy”



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Harry Maguire is comfortable playing as the left-sided centre-back to help the team following Lisandro Martínez’s injury, even though it goes against Ten Hag’s footballing ideals.

Harry Maguire, 30, has had a renaissance to his United career this season with, the Englishman regularly displaying immense performances at the back, and his aerial presence is a key benefit to Erik ten Hag’s team.

None more so was this true than this past weekend when Maguire towered above his man from a corner, which was an obvious set piece from the training ground, and nodded the ball down to an unmarked Rasmus Højlund, who scored his fifth goal in as many games.

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Since returning to the squad after recovering from a groin injury, the 30-year-old has been almost imperious. His performance against Villa earned him Gary Neville’s Man of the Match, as his individual stats put him far above the rest.

Thanks to injuries, United have struggled to have a regular back four for an extended period of time this season, a stat that shocked Neville, who said after the Reds recent victory:

“There was a horrific statistic before the game [against Villa] that I saw – it was something like 16, oh 17 or 18 [different] partnerships or back fours. It’s all over the place, and none of them are ever in a settled back four from game to game, or half to half.”

This is something that Maguire has noticed, and with Martinez being sidelined until after the international break, United’s No. 5, who is predominantly right-footed, has backed himself and Raphaël Varane to do the job for Ten Hag.

“The manager has always reiterated about his philosophies of having a left footer playing left centre-back and a left footer at left-back as well, obviously Victor (Lindelof) had to come in at half-time and play that role [when Luke Shaw was injured vs Villa],” said Maguire to Sky Sports.

“It doesn’t matter for me, I’m comfortable playing on the left. It’s the manager’s philosophy but I’m sure me and Rapha (Varane) can play together and keep clean sheets and win football matches together.

“We haven’t had a settled back four for a while. It’s been difficult. The injury set me back a little bit and it was frustrating to be out for eight weeks but it’s nice to pick up the rhythm again.”