Mean Maguire wants even more from the Reds
Manchester United aim to step up our new-found mean machine status in the campaign’s two-month finale.
The Reds added to an ever-growing list of clean sheets in our brilliant 2-0 derby win against City at Old Trafford yesterday.
Captain Harry Maguire and co. have now built a run that stretches back to 10 games, in which we have completed shut-outs in eight matches.
The miserly stretch began in January, following the 2-0 wake-up call defeat to Burnley. Since then, we have stopped Tranmere Rovers, City (twice), Wolves, Chelsea, Watford, Club Brugge (once, the Belgians scored on their home patch) and Derby County from scoring in 12 hours of action in all competitions.
The platform has taken Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to the Emirates FA Cup quarter-finals, the last 16 of the Europa League and to within three points of the Premier League top four.
And Maguire wants more.
“We need to build on clean sheets. It is a foundation. If we keep a clean sheet, it is a cliche, but, if you keep a clean sheet, it gives you every chance of going on and winning the game,” our skipper told MUTV.
“Eight in 10. Defensively, all season, we have not been a team that has been all over the place and conceding numerous chances. We have never been that team.
“We have conceded sloppy goals at sloppy moments. Set-plays, long-range shots, special goals but, lately, we have cut it out. We have been defending set-plays and I can tell you that is a big bonus.
“It is the key to start picking up good results and that is what we have done.”
United’s 2-0 Premier League triumph against local rivals City raised lots of plus points but down-to-earth Maguire also believes the Reds can up our possession stats.
“We don’t want to be a team that gives up possession really easily,” he said. “In terms of the game, the way it panned out when they had the ball, we as a back-line, I didn’t feel under threat.
“I didn’t feel there was any need for me to start telling the full-backs or centre-halves to start jumping more, or trying to start putting pressure on higher up the pitch because we were 1-0 up and didn’t feel under threat in terms of them creating chances.
“But we don’t want to be a team that doesn’t have a lot of the ball. We want to be a team that controls the game, especially at home. It is something we can work on on the ball. But they created pretty much nothing and it was a solid display.
“We dug in deep out there," he said. "Don’t get me wrong - we can play better than that. We know that. We can play better on the ball especially. Without the ball, we pressed them really well, the midfield and forwards ran tirelessly for the team and didn’t give them a sniff to get their head up and create a chance. The back-line defended our box really well.
“But, with the ball, we can do better and we know we can do better.
“However, It is a big win against our rivals. It is nice to do the double over them but, most importantly, it is a big three points to close the gap on where we want to be at the end of the season.”
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