Harry Maguire and the Manchester United defence deserve huge credit after third place finish


It implies that while there’s plenty of work to do to catch the two teams above us, one part of our game is close to the required standard.


That might surprise some detractors, who have leapt on a couple of David De Gea’s recent mistakes. Or others who have periodically highlighted the fee paid for Harry Maguire that made him the most expensive defender in history.


But each of the regular contributors to the back five has delivered since the turn of the year. And while their performances have by no means been flawless – as the goals conceded against Everton, against Bournemouth, make clear – they are deserving of a little bit more credit, in my opinion.


Maguire played every minute of every Premier League game – the first outfield Red to do so since Gary Pallister in 1994/95. Fans expect perfection when a well-known England international comes in for a big fee, and though Maguire has not reached that impossible target, he’s assumed the captaincy with authority and been an important anchor for the side, both in and out of possession.


David De Gea has endured one of those periods which all goalkeepers suffer from occasionally, where a few errors lead some judges to make out like the world is falling in. This only seems to happen to any serious degree with goalkeepers, who are unique in that their mistakes almost always lead to a goal for the opposition. 


But he’s kept 10 clean sheets in the Premier League since the start of 2020. Only Ederson can boast a better record during that period. After a forgettable afternoon at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, the Spaniard has responded well. He hasn’t conceded in open play since, and was vital in the 2-0 win over Palace at Selhurst Park that preceded the cup defeat.


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