Five key points from our captain's interview
He's known for his quality, calmness and authority on the pitch, while off it, our captain Harry Maguire is an equally unflappable character, as well as a warm and engaging guy whose passion and determination to lead this current Manchester United side to success is there for all to see.
We recently sat down with our skipper for a lengthy chat about a host of different topics, on and off the field, including his assessment of his impressive performances for club and country, his thoughts on the new campaign and the return of fans and why he'll be leaving penalty duties to Bruno Fernandes despite his corker in the Euro 2020 final!
You can read the full interview in Saturday's edition of United Review, while below we pick out five stand-out features from our memorable interview...
LEADING AND IMPROVING
Harry has shown himself as a real leader for both club and country and, at 28, he acknowledges that now is the time he'll be coming into his prime. But our skipper isn't the kind of player to rest on his laurels despite a superb last 12 months of performances - improving, leading and helping the team win trophies are all he is focused on.
"Everyone says at 28 as a centre-half that’s probably when you’re at your prime," he admits. "You develop and learn in every game you play and experience comes with that on the pitch and the way you handle yourself around the place. Of course, I’m still improving and I still feel like I can improve and I’ll look to improve again this season and keep improving on what I’ve done over the last few years."
And he insists the Reds are blessed with a host of players with exactly the right mentality to be successful.
"I think having leaders in your team is a really important part of the game," he says. "I think it goes under the radar a little bit in terms of how important it is not just to have one leader, you need numerous leaders and lots of voices in the dressing room and on the pitch as well. It’s not all about just voices, it’s about how you handle yourself around the place, putting people first and being a real team player and we have numerous players like that. And I feel like as a club we’re heading in the right direction in terms of having lots of leaders and a better mentality in the squad to push on to enable us to win trophies which is what it’s all about."
ON IT FROM THE OFF
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken recently of the importance of the Reds getting off to a productive, positive and points-filled start to the campaign following the disappointment of last year's season opening. And Harry has echoed those sentiments, insisting the grudge match with Leeds is the perfect way to kick things off.
"You don’t need too much of a rallying cry when we’re playing Leeds at home, especially when the fans are back in the stadium. We’ll be ready. It’s a great game to start the season and we need to start on a positive note.
"A good start sets you up for the season," he adds. "We know you’re not going to win the league in the first few weeks of the season, but to get positive results in those first few games will set you up and then you see where you go for the rest of the season. We’ll just take every game as it comes, at this club it’s not just about the start, it’s about every game and trying to win each one and putting that demand and expectation on yourself to go and do that. The preparations all come from pre-season and the way we want to go about our business, and of course winning football matches is a priority for this club."
THE MORE THE MERRIER
Our no.5 recently celebrated his two-year anniversary with the Reds, with a 4-0 win over Chelsea on his debut (and a Man of the Match award on the day). That's something Harry says will always be a highlight of his career. He knows how it feels to join the biggest club in the world and our skipper says he and his team-mates will always welcome new signings with open arms.
"As players the more the merrier and the bigger the competition the better. We know when you play for Manchester United that you can’t sit still," he declares. "If you sit still then you’ll get caught out and people will overtake you, so you’ve got to keep improving and push yourself every day. So bringing players in will make you do that and of course making them feel welcome and settled is something we’ll all do.
"I’ll have a part to play in that and of course there will also be numerous amounts of players and staff who will do that too. I can only speak from my point of view when I joined this club and the way I got welcomed into the team - the players and staff were brilliant."
NO MORE PENALTIES ANY TIME SOON!
Few England fans will forget the ecstasy of seeing Harry fire one of the greatest penalties you'll ever see into the top corner at Wembley back in July, before the agony that followed as Gareth Southgate's men cruelly lost the Euro 2020 final on spot-kicks to Italy.
It's fair to say seeing Harry step up to take a penalty was a rare sighting, but talk about pulling a screamer out of the bag when it was most needed. Asked whether he'd put his hand up to take one for United if Bruno fancied a breather from them, Harry replied: [Laughs] "Obviously it was a tense moment for myself and I managed to stick it away, but I don’t think I’ll be taking any penalties off Bruno any time soon! He’s the man for penalties and I have full faith and trust that he converts them, like he has over the last couple of seasons now."
SHOWING OUR SUPPORT
The club and the players recently confirmed the decision, alongside all 20 Premier League clubs, to continue taking the knee before matches during the 2021/22 season, as football's fight against racism continues. In addition, the 'No Room For Racism' badge will continue to be worn on the sleeves of players and match officials.
"We had a good chat between ourselves as players and everyone said we want to continue, especially with getting fans back in the stadium," explained Harry. "Looking back at the Euros it didn’t start great and we didn’t have the best reaction in the first game, but by the final it was really touching and emotional when everyone cheered.
"You saw on the journey during last season and the Euros that taking the knee with fans back in the stadium, that it had a big impact and that’s what we want to keep doing. It shows us as a club where we stand. We want it to have a big impact and I spoke to the lads and every one of them said they want to continue with it and we had a discussion with the Premier League. I can’t speak for every team, but every team that I spoke to wanted to do it also."