How Harry's leadership inspired West Ham win

Monday 15 March 2021 12:45

Sunday night's 1-0 win over West Ham was not the most eye-catching victory that Manchester United have achieved this season, but it was one of our grittiest. And few players embodied the Reds' determination more than skipper Harry Maguire.

Luke Shaw took the Man of the Match award, while Dean Henderson enjoyed a fairly serene evening in goal, but both owed a debt of gratitude to Maguire, who the Times described as "imperious" at the heart of United's defence.
There was a dramatic block to deny a Jarrod Bowen shot in the second period, and numerous headers and clearances, as United restricted the Hammers to very little attacking joy throughout.
Harry's highlights from a vital win over West Ham Video

Harry's highlights from a vital win over West Ham

"More brilliant defending from our captain," said MUTV's Stewart Gardner, summing up Harry's performance on Sunday...

But perhaps Maguire's most valuable contribution to the team was one that TV audiences might not have picked up: his encouragement and leadership.
Harry is always vocal during games and this was never more apparent than during the win over the Hammers. The skipper belted out instructions to start quickly, on the front foot, as we awaited the first whistle. “Come on, let’s go!” he barked, clearly trying to set the agenda from the outset.
During a stoppage in play in the first half for an injury, his voice could also be heard ordering his colleagues to “stop giving the ball away”, showing exasperation that the Reds needed to be more assured in our possession against a side that was sitting back and defending in numbers.
This is always the case with Maguire, and he can easily be heard during the behind-closed-doors fixtures, with no crowd present to drown out the noise as normal. 
Henderson was also offering plenty of encouragement and advice, but the captain was particularly keen to order his troops and ensure the tempo was maintained in difficult circumstances, on the back of another tiring week.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about our no.5's instructive efforts to polish our collective performance after the game, and the Norwegian said such vocal input was really helpful.
“They all needed it," the boss told the BBC. “Either digging out or calming down. Maybe it was more calming down, because I know the attitude was there.
“We wanted so much to recover from what happened on Thursday night with the last-minute equaliser from Milan, and the attitude was spot-on – just calm down and trust yourselves. Dean Henderson did not have a save to make and I guess that is a good sign.”
Highlights: United 1 West Ham 0 Video

Highlights: United 1 West Ham 0

Watch the main moments from our dominant display against the Hammers...

For the first time in Solskjaer's period as manager, the Reds have kept four consecutive Premier League clean sheets, and Maguire has been critical to the defence's improvement.
Along with Southampton's James Ward-Prowse, the Yorkshireman is the only outfield player to have featured in every minute of his club's Premier League campaign during 2020/21. 
Harry is also eighth on the list for most clearances (108), with the majority of the players ahead of him belonging to clubs in the bottom half of the table, who inevitably spend a great proportion of their games defending.
What did Ole make of our win over West Ham? Video

What did Ole make of our win over West Ham?

The boss assesses our victory against the Hammers and gives an injury update on five Reds....

Maguire came second to Shaw in our Man of the Match fan vote, with 21 per cent of the share, but did the defender play any better than normal?
While other defenders in the league fall in and out of the spotlight from month to month, Maguire’s remarkable consistency is often neglected. He has been a virtual ever-present for United since he signed, and his performance levels have barely flickered.
We’re biased, admittedly! But for his presence on the pitch in almost every United game, for his leadership, and for his accomplished play both in an out of possession, Maguire deserves more regular praise.

More analysis of an important win: