Maguire keen to assist young players
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has revealed he regularly talks to the club's youngsters in a bid to help them deal with the pressures that come with representing the Reds.
The centre-back has had chats with Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga, now the latter has also broken into the first-team picture.
With interim manager Ralf Rangnick on record in showing the appreciation of the blend of youth and experience at his disposal, it is obvious that the elder statesmen are in a good position to help the Academy products take the big step up into senior football.
Maguire exclusive: You have to lead by example
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When asked about Elanga's breakthrough in recent weeks, the skipper said: "That’s what this club is about and what it’s been about for numerous years now, we bring through young talent and people get opportunities.
"Anthony has broken into the team in the last couple of games and he’s done really well and should be really proud of himself. You’ve obviously got Marcus [Rashford], who is established, and Mason, who is growing and growing and getting better and better.
"It’s what this club is about, it brings through talented footballers and if you’re talented enough then you’ll get an opportunity to play and that’s what happened with Anthony."
Maguire accepts that all the senior players need to lead by example in all aspects of the game in order to pass the right messages on to the newer members of the side.
"Definitely," he asserted. "It’s important. Over the last few years, with Mason [for example], I’ve spoken with him a lot. He’s matured a lot off the pitch and you can see that on it, with his performances.
"The same with Anthony. Sometimes, when you’re a young boy, you can feel like the opportunity to start a game is far away then, all of a sudden, things change and you get your opportunity and you’ve got to be ready to take it.
"Anthony has done that really well and he should be proud of himself and I’m sure his family is really proud. Now it’s a marker and a stepping stone and can he really kick on? He has all the talent in the world to do that.
"Of course, myself and the senior lads will be pushing him and others, and that’s what we want – we want these young players to come in and bring energy and intensity, and help improve us as a squad. We’re all here to win football matches and the better players we have in the squad then the more competition there is and the more opportunities we have to win games."
In terms of encouragement on the pitch, it is clear any young players breaking into the team may feel nervous but Maguire has been in their shoes before and is keen to put them at ease.
"Obviously, I’m the captain of the club and, when players make their debuts, I feel a big responsibility to help them and speak with them because I know what it feels like as that young boy," he added. "I was there a few years ago now.
"There are nerves and there are pressures with playing for a club like Manchester United and, on and off the field, it’s really important for us senior lads to guide these players and give them the best opportunity to go and perform well.
"We give them those words of encouragement and we also put a lot of demands on them too, especially in training. We expect them to work hard and to get stuck in and to not be afraid of anybody or anything, and to play with no fear. So it’s really important that they keep working and pushing and we’ve got a lot of senior lads at the club now to help and guide them, and to help them improve the squad which is the ultimate aim for us."