‘He’s the EXAMPLE’: Erik ten Hag hits back at critics of Harry Maguire following the debacle in Seville… as he insists the Man United captain still has an ‘important role’ to play at the club
- Erik ten Hag has issued a vow of confidence in club captain Harry Maguire
- Maguire came under huge criticism after Man United’s Europa League exit
- The Englishman is expected to start Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Brighton
Erik ten Hag has fired back at critics of Harry Maguire as the Manchester United boss insisted the under-fire club captain is an ‘example in training’.
Maguire has started United’s last two fixtures, the 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest and Thursday’s error-ridden 3-0 defeat by Sevilla following injuries to first-choice centre back pairing Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.
The Man United defender was largely at fault for Sevilla’s opening goal in the quarter-final second-leg clash in Spain after he was closed down before Youssef En-Nesyri scored the opener.
Maguire will miss Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Brighton through suspension but Ten Hag has stressed the Englishman’s importance in matches and on the training pitch.
‘He has an important role, he is the captain, he leads and he communicates with the manager, motivates the team, he’s the example in the training space,’ Ten Hag said.
Erik ten Hag has labelled Harry Maguire as an ‘example’ to the rest of the Man United squad
Maguire was heavily criticised after Man United’s Europa League exit on Thursday
Ten Hag’s comments contrast the feelings of large swathes of United supporters who slammed the centre-back for his torrid showing in Spain.
Maguire scored an own goal at the end of the first-leg at Old Trafford before enduring another poor outing on Thursday.
United fans labelled his efforts as ‘terrible’ as players were accused of ‘bottling’ the tie after originally holding a two-goal lead.
Injuries to Martinez and Varane mean that the 30-year-old will likely return to the side after the semi-final against Brighton as there are few other options available at Ten Hag’s disposal.
The 30-year-old has started only 15 matches this season as he has been reduced to playing a bit-part role by the United boss.
He has started three of United’s four FA Cup fixtures so far this season but a yellow card in the 3-1 win over Fulham in the quarter-finals means he will miss Sunday’s match.
Ten Hag is expected to offload as many as 17 players in the summer transfer window and said on Thursday that Maguire and other members of his squad are playing for their Old Trafford futures.
‘I think we always playing for our future as professional players. Every game is a test, every season is a test, you have to earn the right to wear the shirt,’ said Ten Hag.
Maguire (second from left) has been made a scapegoat for poor United performances this season
Ten Hag has rallied around Maguire after he was criticised following the defeat in Seville
‘It’s for me as a manager. We are in the same boat. During the season we make huge progress. We have the experience but we have a way to go.
‘A good thing is Sunday is a huge opportunity, semi-final of the FA Cup, a better event you can’t imagine, after that a lot of great games to go, we have to prove it and this group of players has to prove it,’ he added.