Manchester United have had a somewhat mixed season thus far.
The club are involved in a genuine title challenge under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but it already seems like their grip on the coat-tails of the leaders is slipping.
Indeed, United sit five points behind Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who also have a game in hand on their bitter rivals.
United’s form has been patchy at best recently, too, and they have won just two of their last five games – that is not the form of a title challenger.
They have also been knocked out of the Champions League and will be spending the rest of their European season trying to again win the Europa League.
And one regular failing has been that of the defence.
Solskjaer’s men have conceded 30 goals in the league this season, a tally that is higher than every other club in the top 10, bar Leeds United.
And that has led to United legend Paul Parker singling out Harry Maguire.
He believes that the £80m signing from Leicester simply isn’t good enough, especially now that he wears the club’s captain armband, and has called on United to seek a player to replace him, rather than partner him.
Speaking to The Sun, he said: "Despite the position that Manchester United find themselves in the Premier League, they still need to strengthen in the transfer market this summer.
"Regarding the centre-backs, people talk about bringing in a new partner for Harry Maguire, but I would look at bringing in two centre-backs, why can’t it be a player who comes in and plays alongside Victor Lindelof?
"Harry Maguire is not a leader, he plays the game for himself, he sits way too deep, he dribbles for the sake of dribbling and runs himself into cul-de-sacs.
"The goal against Sheffield United, he put David De Gea in a terrible position, and he made a terrible clearance which people then blamed the goalkeeper.
"Sometimes you need to look at the build-up to see the mistakes.
"I have always been unsure about Maguire since the day Manchester United signed him. When they paid £80m, the club didn’t buy an £80m centre back, it was great business by Leicester.
"Despite the position that Manchester United find themselves in the Premier League, they still need to strengthen in the transfer market this summer.
"Bringing in competition for places always helps players to improve their game. You look at Luke Shaw this season, he has really upped his game since the signing of Alex Telles."
Paul Parker was speaking on behalf of GrandNational.org.
GIVEMESPORT’S Harry Sherlock says…
Blimey, this is a bit of a blindside attack, isn’t it?
Parker is focusing on the errors, which is perhaps understandable, but the stats actually paint a picture of an exceptionally dominant defender, albeit one who is somewhat reactive.
Per fbref, Maguire wins 4.29 aerials per game, 1.65 interceptions, 5.22 progressive carries (carries that move the ball forward at least five yards).
All of those stats place him in the top 10% of defenders in Europe's top five leagues.
However, he also averages just 5.58 pressures per game along with 0.95 tackles, placing him in the lowest 20%.
What does that tell us? This is a player who picks his moments, who dominates in the air, and who is exceptional when he has the ball at his feet.
What does he need? A partner who is more active, and who tries to win the ball back by closing down. Maguire is the covering defender, not the active participant in winning the ball back.
Really, that isn’t a bad thing, and just shows that if anything, he is being exposed by the tactics of the team, rather than his own shortcomings.News Now - Sport News