Importance of Harry Maguire felt by Man Utd in Liverpool loss – their lack of recent clean sheets is a worrying trend

HARRY MAGUIRE missed his first Premier League starts for Manchester United this week and the result – the defence crumbled and conceded six goals.

The sight of him hobbling down the stands with a huge protective boot on his left leg at the end of the 4-2 home thumping against Liverpool suggests he will not be coming to the rescue in time for the Europa League final either.

So from favourites to beat Villarreal in Gdansk on May 26 their status is not looking so certain.

Things are ok going forward it is just when the opposition cross the halfway line and approach the final third that the problems mount.

It was Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly at the heart of the defence in a weakened side that lost 2-1 to Leicester.

More worryingly was the fact that Bailly teamed up with Maguire’s regular centre-back partner Victor Lindelof against Liverpool and they were calved open, conceding four.

Maguire could only bellow on encouragement from the stands , but it was his physical and vocal presence on the pitch that was missing from an otherwise first choice line up.

Maguire came off in the 78th minute of United’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa last Sunday with an ankle ligament injury.  It was the first time he had missed any Premier League minutes for United since joining them in the summer of 2019.

His season now looks over and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it is time for others to step up to the plate in their captain’s absence.

Solskjaer said: "Harry has been amazing since he came to the club. He has been more or less ever-present so, of course, when a player is a leader, a captain, the status of him, his presence is missed.

"But then we have players who can come in and it is a chance for everyone to take on that little bit of leadership. We need to do that when he is gone.

"You can hear him in the stands when he is not playing. he is important for us and someone else just has to take that responsibility now because I am sure that in the next two games we will be without him.

“Hopefully, we can get him back for the final but who knows? I don’t know yet."

United have now conceded 27 league goals at home, their worst tally since tally since 1962-63 when they also conceded the same amount but from more games.

The stat is slightly misleading given that nine of those goals came in their first two home league games – a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace and 6-2 loss to Tottenham when they were not up to speed after barely any pre-season preparation.

Indeed since the turn of the year they have kept 17 clean sheets from 29 games in all comps up until the recent poor run starting with conceding two against Roma at home.

They have not kept a clean sheet in their last five games and lost three of their last four.

It is a worrying trend.

The goalkeeping situation is a concern too with Solskjaer now putting faith in Dean Henderson although De Gea will start the Europa League final.

United legend Paul Scholes does not believe Henderson has taken his chance.

He blamed him for three of the four Liverpool goals, the worst of which was when he spilled a shot straight at him to allow Firmino to grab his second and put the visitors 3-1 up.

Scholes said: “The goalkeeper situation is a big worry. I felt the timing was right to give Henderson a chance but he hasn’t convinced me yet.

"If De Gea is leaving do they need a No.1 or a No.2? I wanted Dean to do well, but I think he’s been at fault for three of the goals."

United legend Roy Keane agrees about Henderson.

"He looks so small in the goals, that's my worry," said Keane after the Liverpool defeat.

"He has a good mentality, good temperament and is good with his feet, but I've seen a few goals go in recently where he looks so small in the goals. He looked tiny there for the fourth goal."


While United’s Champions League place for next season has been achieved they want to cling on to second with just two games remaining.

They are currently four points ahead of third placed Leicester with a home game against relegated Fulham next Tuesday and final day trip to Wolves.

Then its that Europa Final and without Maguire that is looking a tougher ask than it did a week ago.

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