This weekend, Man United may be without up to nine players, but Erik ten Hag should still have a sufficient pool of reliable starters to draw from.
In four games, Manchester United has scored seven goals, and three of their center backs have either been injured or have fallen ill. Harry Maguire won’t, however, get the ball against Brighton.
Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez will continue as long as they are given the all-clear following foreign service. Maguire will be the fifth center back in line if Raphael Varane is match-fit.
Jonny Evans is playing defense, which is a step backwards for United after seeing Claude Puel’s first-choice center backs at Leicester protect Andre Onana five years ago in the last seconds against Arsenal.
For Maguire, anything that can go wrong will. At the Emirates Stadium, United was down 3-1 when he entered the game. He made his comeback in Glasgow with England cruising and he broke his personal record.
Varane was pulled off with an ankle injury during United’s 2-0 quarterfinal Europa League victory against Sevilla five months prior. United lost the match 5-0 overall when Maguire entered for the final three halves.
Maguire is stuck in a negative spiral that won’t break until he gets out. He ought to have quit in the summer, but he wasn’t ready to accept the pay cut or United’s compensation. According to reports, Maguire requested a pay-off of almost £12 million.
The benefits of staying with United are minimal. Maguire has been demoted and stripped of the captaincy. Although he was confident on the ball against Scotland despite the heckles at Hampden, he was jeered by some oafs at Wembley 18 months ago. The England camp offers some solace.
Regular United supporters at Old Trafford have never booed Maguire. Maguire was the target of jeers in Melbourne, Las Vegas, and Dublin, not to lessen the fervor of some fans at international games. He has committed far worse errors at Old Trafford and Anfield without receiving a backlash from United supporters.
Maguire’s club decline has been managed by Ten Hag for the benefit of the squad. Six of Maguire’s 11 starts for United this year have come in cup competitions, and the other three were either forced or rotated in.
With the exception of the League Cup match against Crystal Palace, which is the only trophy United has held on a plinth in the museum during the past six years, rotation cannot be entertained because to the frightening start to their season. It is unpredictable that Maguire will be started against Brighton outright.