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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Harry Maguire shares verdict on Manchester United’s squad before FA Cup final

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Harry Maguire believes Manchester United could have performed better this season despite their numerous injuries. Under-pressure boss Erik ten Hag has dealt with over 60 cases of injury or illness throughout a tough campaign, resulting in the Red Devils finishing eighth in the Premier League—their lowest-ever finish.The England defender is now racing to be fit for Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester City after missing the end of the season with a calf problem. Several key defenders, including Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Jonny Evans, Willy Kambwala, Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Victor Lindelof, have also faced injuries, with Tyrell Malacia not featuring at all.Midfielder Mason Mount, who joined from Chelsea for £55 million in July, has struggled with his fitness, while other players like Bruno Fernandes, Casemiro, Scott McTominay, Christian Eriksen, Sofyan Amrabat, Marcus Rashford, Rasmus Hojlund, Amad Diallo, Antony, and Anthony Martial have all been sidelined at various points.Despite these challenges, Maguire admits that missing out on European spots is a significant disappointment, especially after last season’s third-place finish. He hopes to end the season on a high by winning the FA Cup, which would also secure Manchester United a place in the Europa League.Maguire’s thoughts on Manchester United’s season and future prospectsReflecting on the season, Maguire said, “It has been a really disappointing season from where we were a year ago. Everyone will admit that. Obviously, we have had a ridiculous number of injuries, a freak number. We have not dealt with it well enough. We should have managed more points than what we did. We have not performed well enough and our performances should have been better. Obviously, Europe is something we need to push towards. It would be a great achievement to win the Cup against a team who are playing really well.”Accepting the pressure that comes with playing for Manchester United, Maguire added, “It is what happens when you play for this club. If you don’t get good results, players get scrutinized, players get linked with a move away. They get sold, put on the transfer list and the manager will come under pressure. I have been here five years now so I know what happens. The manager is experienced enough to know it is part and parcel of being at this club. I am sure he can deal with that. As a team, this season has been a lot tougher than last year. But it is a long old career and you will always have ups and downs. It is the way you react to the downs which pushes you.”Maguire, who joined Manchester United from Leicester in 2019 for £85 million, hopes to be fit for Saturday’s Wembley final, even if only to make the bench. He is not thinking about the Euros yet, focusing solely on the FA Cup final. He said, “The Euros is not a priority. I am not looking to save myself for the Euros. This is a Cup final for Manchester United. I want to be involved. I want to be available to play. The Euros have not crossed my mind. I am doing everything I can to be involved again. Even if I only return to training the day before the game, I want to be involved.”Reflecting on last season’s FA Cup final against Manchester City, Maguire recalled, “It was a painful day. We got the Carabao Cup and were full of confidence going into the game. We played well but to concede so early against the team going for the Treble was really bad. We know we cannot do that again on Saturday. If you give a team like City a head start in a Cup final, then you are giving yourself a really tough task. It is hard enough to beat them on a level playing field.”Maguire also expressed confidence in Mount despite the midfielder’s struggles with injuries this season. He said, “Mason wanted to come and make a big impression but he has been really unlucky with injuries since arriving. We can see in training he will be a big player for this club. Every player and member of staff knows that. I am sure he is so frustrated he has not had the opportunity to show that to United’s fans. He will have many years at this club, though.”As Manchester United prepares for the FA Cup final, fans and players alike are hopeful that Maguire and the team can overcome their challenges and finish the season on a positive note. Winning the FA Cup would not only boost their morale but also ensure their place in the Europa League, marking a significant achievement in a difficult season.

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