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‘Harsh treatment’: Steve Bruce applauds Man United ‘scapegoat’ for silencing his critics

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Former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce is full of praise for Harry Maguire with the Premier League’s most maligned figure bouncing back under Erik ten Hag.

12 months ago, the prospect of Harry Maguire playing the final 50 minutes of an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Liverpool would have been enough to send a shiver down the spines of Manchester United supporters.

But as the England international dominated at both ends of the pitch – spending much of his time playing as an auxiliary striker as Erik ten Hag’s side recovered from 2-1 and 3-2 down at Old Trafford – Maguire produced a performance befitting a man who’s remarkable revival should be an inspiration to any player who finds himself slipping down the pecking order.

Manchester United v Fulham FC - Premier League

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Manchester United beat Liverpool as Harry Maguire shines

“I felt it had been a little bit harsh the treatment he has had. I thought he had been made a little bit of a scapegoat,” Steve Bruce, who would have been proud of the way Maguire slammed the door on Liverpool’s often-rampant frontline when coming off the bench on Sunday, tells talkSPORT (19 March, 9am).

“I’m always going to defend him because I know him well. I know him personally. And the kid wants to do well. He is resilient to see it through which you need at the level he is playing.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he is playing for England at the Euros because Gareth (Southgate) trusts him. And have we got anybody better?”

Former captain bounces back under Erik ten Hag

On the evidence of Sunday’s instant classic between two north west rivals, you could copy and paste Bruce’s final line and apply it to Manchester United too. Ten Hag wants defenders with the bravery and the personality to push up the pitch and press high and Maguire, while hardly alien to the odd blunder, feels far better suited to such a role than either Raphael Varane or Victor Lindelof.

And, even after losing the captain’s armband to Bruno Fernandes last summer, Maguire’s personality, experience and his rather inspirational refusal to give up on a Man United career which looked destined at one point only to end in one way could yet make him a key figure in the transition towards a bold new era under Ineos control.

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