Maguire appreciation is long overdue
The fact that Harry Maguire is showing his class at Euro 2020 should come as no great surprise.
It is often said that some players are only really properly appreciated when they don't play and there is no doubting Harry was sorely missed during the final weeks of the season, after damaging knee ligaments against Aston Villa.
The captain is one of the first names on the team sheet and provides much more than his obvious leadership qualities and organisational skills.
As he displayed against Germany, when winning the UEFA Star of the Match award, it is not all about his defending either. He brought the ball forward with intent and this was a key feature of the game at Wembley, while also providing his usual goal threat in the opposition box from free-kicks and corners.
So it is encouraging to see Harry getting the respect he deserves, and some of it is long overdue. He had another excellent season in the red shirt before the injury and it is a relief that he is showing no ill-effects whatsoever after the enforced lay-off and recovery period.
"I think some people are a little unfair on Harry," said our legendary former captain Bryan Robson this week. “Just at the start of the season, a few people maybe had some knee-jerk reactions to a couple of things but nobody can play great all of the time.
“It’s how you bounce back from that. Harry showed his mentality is strong because he came back and started playing really well but, for me, the part where we missed most at Manchester United from Harry is that dominance at defending set-plays. We do show that we miss his dominance in the air on set-pieces when we’re playing without him.”
German legend Jurgen Klinsmann commented on Maguire's ability during his stint as a pundit on BBC, covering Monday evening's 2-0 win for Gareth Southgate's Three Lions."I coached Bayern Munich and had a Brazilian centre-back called Lucio, he was similar to Maguire," said the former Tottenham striker.
“He took the ball into midfield and ran off, we never knew what happened! Harry is similar, a positive lad, a leader and takes matters into his own hands.
“When it's not getting anywhere, he takes the ball and goes! I like that.”
"England have not conceded a goal yet and I thought, the other night, besides the Thomas Muller chance, there were not many chances given up," ex-Red Denis Irwin told us. "They've looked very solid and Luke [Shaw] and Harry have been part of that, I've got to say that.
“It's a tough life being a footballer, I tell you, because you are going to have ups and downs. Since Harry came, I think he's been brilliant.
“People look at the amount he came for and he will always get criticism but I think he's brilliant and a great leader.
“We've seen that with England in the last couple games, when he's come in and steadied the ship. He's a fantastic footballer on top of that. It's great to see the two of them doing very, very well. I've got to say that.”
Everybody can be in agreement that Maguire has the platform to prove himself as one of the top defenders in Europe during Euro 2020, particularly if England can go all the way to the final at Wembley a week on Sunday.
Such tournaments provide an opportunity to closely scrutinise the continent's top footballers and it is fair to say the 28-year-old will hopefully continue to show up well in comparison.
Perhaps, finally, the centre-back will be widely acknowledged as one of the best defenders around and a major asset for United.