Harry Maguire before the win at Leicester.

It's time to review Maguire's remarkable stats

Monday 27 July 2020 16:07

We asked Harry Maguire about some of his stats in the Premier League last month and, rightly so, he indicated the time to properly reflect on them was when the campaign was over.

Although we still have the Europa League to look forward to, the 2-0 win at Harry's former club Leicester City on Sunday ended our league term on a real positive note, cementing third place in the table and securing Champions League football in 2020/21.

So it feels like we should now have a closer look at some key stats surrounding the skipper's debut season at United, one which saw him handed the armband, and post some eye-catching figures.

First and foremost, he became the first outfield player to appear in every single minute of a Premier League season for the Reds since fellow centre-back Gary Pallister in the 1994/95 season.

Colleague David De Gea also achieved this feat, as did seven of his fellow keepers - Martin Dubravka (Newcastle), Ben Foster (Watford), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley), Rui Patricio (Wolves), Mathew Ryan (Brighton) and Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City).

However, only Conor Coady (Wolves), George Baldock (Sheffield United), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham) and James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) matched Maguire's minutes in terms of outfield players.

It is clear that Maguire has the sort of robustness that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and indeed any manager, appreciates. It has not always been easy in recent times to have defenders who can play in every single game, a point backed up by the fact that Pallister was the last, and having somebody who is always one of the first names on the teamsheet is a major boost.

Furthermore, the no.5 is often in the thick of things and is usually engaged in physical combat. There were reports he would be a long-term absentee when injured during the Emirates FA Cup tie at Wolves in early January, which caused him to miss the home leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final with Manchester City.

He was missed that night when the Blues raced into a three-goal lead at the interval but returned, ahead of schedule, for the 4-0 beating of Norwich City a mere four days later.

More recently, he required lengthy treatment for head injuries against both Crystal Palace and Chelsea but soldiered on, with a headband initially at Wembley. 

The England international's prowess in the air was established long before he joined the club. He ended up winning 193 aerial duels this term, third behind Tarkowski (209) and West Ham striker Sebastien Haller (197) when comparing everybody in the division.

One fact he was aware of, when we spoke to him for the official programme, United Review, was that he was making more headers than during his time at Leicester City (he ending up having more in the one campaign here than both of the last two combined with the Foxes  - 172).

Did this surprise him?

"Yes, it is strange but, when I think about that stat, and I have actually thought about it when I’ve seen it as I got tagged in it quite a lot [on social media], I think it’s because we put such a high press on teams," he explained. "The boys at the top end of the pitch are constantly pressing and it gives the other team no other option but to kick the ball long really.

“So I would say that is probably the main reason in terms of me averaging more headers this season than any other. All credit to the attacking boys and their fitness work for doing the pressing, which makes defenders have no option but to kick it long and find my head!"

Having such a dominant force in the air is extremely useful for any side but there is another, perhaps under-appreciated, facet to the central defender's game and one that helped convince Solskjaer to bring him to Old Trafford.

Maguire is extremely adept at bringing the ball forward and the stats are pretty remarkable in this respect. He sits in fourth spot in the overall list for the Premier League for this skill, as noted by FBRef.com, and the players ahead of him are attacking dribblers who run at opposing defenders. Jack Grealish, Wilfried Zaha and Adama Traore are the only men who have covered more ground in possession than our captain.

"It’s something that, when I signed for this club, was what the gaffer reiterated," he said. "He wanted to start attacks from the back and be in control of games. He wanted to build up from possession and I felt my game was suited to help him do that.

“It was nice to see a lot of stats over this lockdown. I have seen so many flung about as there’s not been much else for people to do, apart from find out stats! But, no, it’s been nice to see them although, for me personally, it’s business now. We have the remaining games and then I’ll evaluate the season after these eight matches. It’s been great and a pleasing start for me, particularly after getting the captain’s armband at such an iconic club. We will push on from there – there is still lots of improvement [to be made]."

Maguire: The future is about trophies Video

Maguire: The future is about trophies

"I joined this club to play Champions League football," explains Harry in our pitchside interview...

If Maguire does get any time for reflection before we are back in action for next week's Europa League clash with LASK, it will be hoped that it is coupled with some well-earned rest and recuperation.

The official Premier League stats log 38 appearances, 13 clean sheets, 2,519 passes and zero errors leading to goals.

It has been a demanding end to the campaign but one in which we have achieved the goal of clinching a place in the Champions League.

That Harry was able to finish the job by shutting out his former side Leicester, and his pal and Golden Boot-winner Jamie Vardy, should bring an extra sense of personal satisfaction. No doubt, his mind will be wandering and thinking of getting his hands on the Europa League trophy, though, come next month.

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