Harry Maguire exclusive: It's an honour to be captain
Harry Maguire says being named Manchester United’s new captain is a "massive honour".
The centre-back succeeds previous incumbent Ashley Young, who completed his move to Inter Milan on Friday.
In an exclusive interview with MUTV's Stewart Gardner, Maguire discusses what it means to be given the armband, and also previews Sunday’s upcoming trip to Anfield to take on Premier League leaders Liverpool.
You can watch and read the full interview below...
Harry, you’re officially the captain of one of the biggest clubs on the planet – how does that make you feel?
“It’s a massive honour to be the captain of this prestigious club. It’s a great feeling for myself but the hard work continues and I’ll keep doing the best I can, on and off the pitch, to make this club successful.”
To have the trust of the manager to do that job after only five or six months here is quite something…
“Yes, like you said, I’ve only been here five or six months and to gain his trust in that amount of time is obviously a great feeling for myself. It gives me confidence going into games and the way I put myself around the place. Off the field and on the field is especially important as a captain and it’s something I’m looking forward to but, like I said, the main thing is being successful as a club during the time I’m here.”
You’ve worn the armband plenty of times this season – what sort of captain are you? Are you someone who talks a lot or leads by example?
“It’s something that’s grown in my game in the last few years. I talk on the pitch and I want to do it more. It’s something I’ve tried to improve over the last few years. You can probably ask the boys… I do speak a lot on the pitch. I expect good standards from everyone and I demand a lot from the players around me; I’m sure they’ll all say the same. But for me it’s about being fully focused on my own performance and also now – as it has been since I started – making sure the team is successful.”
“Yes, definitely. I knew before I came here about the rivalry. They’re obviously two clubs who have had great success over the years, and who have been fighting at the top for many years. It’s a big rivalry and a big game and it’s one that we’re all looking forward to.”
The last time Liverpool didn’t win at Anfield in the Premier League, a year ago, you scored [Leicester's equaliser]. Is that a great memory for you?
“Yes, a great memory, obviously – to score at Anfield and to get a result there when I was at Leicester. It was an important goal and one I remember well. It’s always a tough place to go but, like I say, one that I look forward to.”
What’s the Anfield experience like?
“They’re on really good form at the moment and have been picking up good wins. We know it’s a tough place to go against a tough team. We faced them earlier on in the season and we felt we should have held out for the win, although a draw was probably a fair result after we conceded so late on. Going to Anfield we know the atmosphere is going to be electric, but our supporters will follow us all the way and sing loud and proud, and hopefully we can give them something to cheer about.”
United are the only team that haven’t been beaten by Liverpool – does that give you confidence going into the game on Sunday?
“Yes, it gives us confidence, but as a team we’re confident going into any game. We drew against Liverpool and we beat City, who are the top teams in the Premier League at the moment, so we’re confident that we can get three points from any game and that’s what we’ll be going to do on Sunday.”
Their front three are having an excellent season. From a defender’s point of view, how much of a challenge is it coming up against them?
“They’re top players, but we come across top players in the Premier League week in, week out. They’ve been excellent and have formed a relationship together at Liverpool and it will be tough to stop them, but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to and if we play to the best of our ability we’ve got threats ourselves, and in our team, which I’m sure they’re going to be worried about.”
Marcus, Mason and Anthony have scored 39 goals this season, which is more than the Liverpool front three – does that show the talent we have available in the striking areas?
“Yeah, definitely. Our front lads are scoring goals and I’m sure they’re sat in their dressing room trying to work out ways to stop our team as well as us trying to stop them. It’s going to be two good teams going head to head. We’re in a good place at the moment coming on the back of two wins and we’re looking forward to it.”
We've had three clean sheets in the last four games, as well – how confident are you alongside Victor, and with the young full-backs who have been doing particularly well?
“We’ve been settled for a couple of games now and have kept a few clean sheets. Brandon has come in and done really well and Aaron has been there all season and been solid. Me and Vic are forming a partnership where we’re getting comfortable alongside each other and we’re starting to learn each other’s games. I think as a defensive unit we’ve been solid for the majority of the year. We’ve conceded a lot of goals from set plays, so we need to tighten up on that, but we haven’t really conceded many chances in games and it’s something we still need to improve on and I’m sure we’ll get there.”
You’ve started every game in the Premier League and shaken off knocks during the season, leading to the manager calling you "a warrior". How important is it to you to play every game, even when you’re not 100 per cent fit?
“It’s something I want to do and something that I’m really proud of. I want to play every game. Obviously to play every game in the Premier League is tough on your legs and tough on your mind, because there are so many games, especially around December, and you see people picking up little injuries. You’ve got to play through these little knocks sometimes and get your head down and get onto the pitch and battle through it. It’s really important for myself – I want to be on the team sheet in every game, if possible.”
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