Harry Maguire at the Aon Training Complex.

Why Maguire is in it for the long term at United

Wednesday 09 October 2019 08:00

As somebody who has seen many top centre-halves sign for Manchester United over the years, it was reassuring when the club landed our top target in Harry Maguire over the summer.

There is no doubting the England international's quality nor, in my view, the belief that he will prove to be the cornerstone of the team for a lengthy period of time. 

So, when having the opportunity to interview Harry for the November edition of Inside United, which is out now, it resonated when he said: "I think it's the long term, that's what the main thing is. In five or six years' time, judge me then - whether I have been a success at this club or not.

“And I do believe and am really confident that, in five or six years’ time, I’ll be a success and I am sure we’ll have many, many good times here.”

Inside United: November 2019
Harry Maguire says

"I think it's the long term, that's what the main thing is. In five or six years' time, judge me then - whether I have been a success at this club or not."

Forget the fact the 26-year-old probably should have opened his goal account at West Ham United or Newcastle United, it is at the back where he will excel and has already shown what he is capable of.

In the past, United have bought the likes of Gary Pallister, Jaap Stam, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and you could tell, even from the earliest of appearances when doubts were sometimes raised, that they would go on to cement their reputation as top-class defenders. For me, the same applies to Maguire - he will reach his peak with the Reds and his influence will only grow and grow.

I am fortunate enough that I can speak with former players, as well as current ones, and, a couple of weeks after interviewing Harry at the Aon Training Complex, I was chatting with Pallister at Old Trafford about his record move from Middlesbrough, some 30 years ago.

There seemed an inevitability back then that the leggy defender would attract criticism because of the size of the fee, a British record at the time, and that was the case in the press after a couple of damaging defeats early in his Old Trafford career.

“It was a big challenge and I don't think you're quite prepared when you come into a club like Manchester United, just how big it is and what it means,” said Pallister. “Not just here in Manchester, nor in the UK but when I started travelling abroad and realised how big this place is and what it means to people across the world.

“That kind of takes you aback and it does take time to settle in. There are very few people who can do it - Eric Cantona can walk in, with his chest puffed out, and say: ‘This is me, this is where I belong’ and just embrace that kind of pressure. For mere mortals like myself, it took me a bit more time.”
Gary Pallister is unveiled as a Manchester United player in 1989.

Maguire does not come across as somebody who would be adversely affected by all the attention that comes with the high-profile move, despite his acknowledgement that it will take time to become accustomed to his new colleagues and the way of playing.

He appears very level headed and, of course, has the experience of playing regularly in the Premier League and reaching the World Cup semi-finals with England. So, perhaps, he will bed in quicker than Pally did.

When he was asked whether he was concerned about the move attracting so much fuss, he replied: “No, it doesn't bother me at all. It's something that I can't affect. Leicester wanted to keep me and they are in a great position as a club.

“Manchester United wanted to buy me and they came to an agreement. It's probably a good deal for both parties and it's something now where I want to concentrate on my football.

“We need to keep improving as a team, not just me as an individual. I feel, if we improve as a team, I'll be a success too.”

It is sometimes difficult in football to think about the long term. In the wake of a disappointing start to the campaign, and another international break to stew on the latest defeat at Newcastle United, it would be easy to lose sight of the positives.

But the capture of Maguire was undeniably a key piece of business for the club in August. Time will tell how much influence he has at the heart of the defence but I think it's a sound bet that he will prove to be an excellent acquisition.

Having chatted with him recently, that belief has only been strengthened as it supported my initial preconceptions about his character and attitude.

The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.