It’s hardly a revelation to say that football fans have short memories.
Supporters tend to forget things quickly, often to fit their own arguments into a social media or pub debate.
The sport is plagued by topicality. There is a regular tendency to describe a moment or a goal as the ‘best ever’, while a player who has a bad season automatically becomes a bad footballer almost overnight.
Maguire – like every single one of his United team-mates, apart perhaps from Cristiano Ronaldo – was terrible in the 2021/22 season. Even he will admit that.
Harry Maguire suffered an injury in May 2021 and has not played for Man United again this season
Maguire had excelled for Man United and his injury prompted a season-ending meltdown
But those who have been so vocal in criticizing him should well remember the importance of Maguire in the penultimate campaign, when United’s season largely fell off a cliff after suffering an ankle injury at Villa Park against Aston Villa in May would have.
Maguire had played every minute of the Premier League until he was substituted late in United’s 3-1 win after a tackle with Anwar El Ghazi.
Without Maguire, United won one of their last four games in the league – the dead game away at Wolves last day – after losing at home to Leicester and Liverpool and drawing with the already relegated Fulham at Old Trafford.
The England star’s injury meant he was only fit for the bench in the Europa League final
At the time, United fans were dying for Maguire to be fit for the Europa League final against Villarreal but he only made it onto the bench.
The Red Devils lost to the Spanish side on penalties, denying Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his first coaching title.
We’ll never know, of course, but there’s strong evidence that United would have won that final with Maguire in the team.
The now 29-year-old had been the focal point of United’s defense this season when few could argue he had not played at a consistently high level throughout.
He hit an impressive 86 headers and won 135 headers, the latter number double Manchester City’s Ruben Dias as United finished second to arch-rivals.
United lost the final on penalties but many believe they would have won with Maguire in the team
Maguire brought his club form into the postponed UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, where he featured in the knockout stages as England reached the final.
Unfortunately for the player and United, his troubles were all too evident in a regrettable campaign for the club last season.
Such was the mockery against Maguire that his absence from the team was greeted with glee from his critics, a far cry from last year.
Maguire has become an unwelcome symbol of United’s mistakes on and off the pitch, with his £80million price tag regularly used as a stick to beat him – even if he had no say in the transfer fee his current side wanted Leicester paid for his services.
Maguire, like most of his Man United team-mates, endured a terrible season last season
The arrival of boss Erik ten Hag gives Maguire a chance for a much-needed fresh start at United
Maguire was so pilloried on social media that he couldn’t even post a picture of his wedding – said to be the happiest day of a person’s life – without receiving a barrage of abuse.
Thankfully for the often-maligned centre-back, Twitter rarely reflects the sentiments of match-going fans, who prefer to get behind their side rather than smack players behind a keyboard – although towards the end the mood at Old Trafford really turned unforgettable Season.
For Maguire, the arrival of new manager Erik ten Hag gives him a chance to put a difficult year behind him and provides him with a much-needed fresh start.
United boss Ten Hag has confirmed Maguire, 29, will remain captain ahead of the new season
Calls for the England international’s captaincy to be removed had been raised but Ten Hag has already signaled his confidence in Maguire by confirming he will keep the armband.
“Harry Maguire is our captain,” Ten Hag said on Monday. “I need to get to know all the players but he is an established captain and has a lot of achievements to his name.”
Although the sample size is small so far, Ten Hag appears to be a hands-on coach and one who could help Maguire regain his former form.
As Luke Shaw candidly admitted this week, the structure the Dutchman is trying to implement is something the club “haven’t had in a while”.
The England international has headed to Thailand and Australia on United’s pre-season tour
Yes, Maguire thrived under Solskjaer, who was little known for his tactical skills, but having a manager like Ten Hag can only be an advantage.
The 52-year-old commander has not only helped nurture and develop centre-backs like Matthijs de Ligt and Lisandro Martinez, who United are looking to sign in a £46million deal this summer transfer window.
The tools appear to be in place, but it’s up to Maguire to prove last season was more of an anomaly and a blip than the norm.