Maguire: Why my heart was set on joining United

Monday 24 May 2021 17:38

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has provided a fascinating insight into his transfer to Old Trafford, explaining passionately why he chose the club over other potential suitors.

The centre-back moved from Leicester City in August 2019 and he made an instant impression, even convincing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make him the club captain midway through his first season. In a mark of his reliability, Maguire has already made 107 appearances as a Red in under two years. 

During a big interview with Gary Neville and The Overlap programme on Sky Sports, Maguire reflects on his move to United and how it could have happened a year earlier after the 2018 World Cup.

“With my age, I always felt like I owed Leicester a lot,” says Harry. “I spoke to [owner] Vichai [Srivaddhanaprabha] and he said there had been a lot of interest from Manchester United when Jose Mourinho was the manager. He said, 'give me one more year and I will let you go'. I didn't really push anything. Obviously, as soon as I heard of the interest from Manchester United, I knew I had my heart set on that and I knew I wanted to play for that club. But, at the age I was, I was 25 years old, I knew I had time on my hands and Vichai stuck to his word, and obviously the move happened.”


Quizzed by Neville on a reported ‘bidding war’ between the two Manchester club, Maguire states he was only interested in one outcome: “Yeah, they were both interested. I spoke to Manchester City and I spoke to Manchester United, but I must say that I've grown up watching Manchester United teams. No disrespect to Manchester City, but I have grown up watching a lot of Manchester United football, at Old Trafford, the iconic status of being one of the biggest clubs in the world, if not the biggest, so I always had my heart set on this club.”
Asked about his conversations with both clubs at that time, Harry continues: “I spoke to Pep and obviously the football that they play and what he has done for the club, I have great respect for Pep, the game and the evolution that he has brought to football. But like I say, it was Manchester United and my heart was set from the amount of interest that they showed in me. It gave me great confidence and belief, for them to pursue it over a 12 to 15 month period of time just showed how much they believed in me, and how much they felt like I would be a big part of the team.

“The first time I spoke with Ole, he just told me how much he felt I could come in and improve the team. It was a time when Manchester United wasn't where it needed to be. On the field, for sure, they were conceding a lot of goals defensively and I knew that I wasn't going to be the final part of the jigsaw. I knew I was going to sign for Manchester United for what was obviously a huge fee and I knew there would be times when we would concede goals, we would lose games and scrutiny would come and I would have to handle it. I knew I wouldn't come into that team and all of a sudden we would win the league by five points. It just wasn't possible. I had to go into the team and make sure that we improved each year and we are doing that, but we have still got a long way to go.”
As Maguire says, United have improved on last season’s third-place in the Premier League by finishing second this time around and the onus now is to go one step further in 2021/22. Harry is quick to admit he has also developed as a leader, now that he’s 18 months into the role. 

“One thing I have always brought to a team are demands,” he says. “I demand a lot from players who I play with. If people tell me to improve on something or shout at me in the game, it doesn't get to me. Obviously, some players, you need to put an arm round them, but I demand a lot from the players and I demand a lot from Luke [Shaw] at left-back. I expect him to be one of the best players on the pitch in every game because of his attributes. I think from when I got it to now, I have got a little bit more confidence in the changing room, you are probably hearing that a little bit more with no fans, and the relationship I have got with the manager and the staff has built up. We can trust each other more.”

Our big interview with Sir Alex: