Harry Maguire has come in for serious criticism at Manchester United this season.
Despite enjoying a superb Euro 2020 campaign with England, Maguire’s form has followed the trajectory of United generally as they continue to struggle under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The combative and reliable figure that we saw leading the Three Lions in the summer has been replaced with the shaky and inconsistent performer that we saw at the start of last season.
Maguire scores vs Albania
Naturally, every top-level footballer goes through wobbly patches and there’s no denying that Maguire is a fine defender, but his critics certainly haven’t let this difficult spell go unanswered for.
And it was clear that Maguire had those doubters on his mind when he took to the field for England’s World Cup qualifier against Albania on Friday night.
We say that because the United skipper seemed to send a very clear message to the haters when he fired England into a 1-0 lead with an emphatic header from Reece James’ delivery.
Maguire blocks out the haters
Maguire proceeded to plunge his fingers into his ears while celebrating with a knee slide as if to say that he’s simply not listening to those who have criticised him over the course of the season.
Now, you’ve got to respect Maguire for making a point that clearly means a lot to him, but not everybody was pleased with the 28-year-old’s gesture, particularly in the ITV studio at half-time.
With the topic of Maguire being brought up during the UK broadcast, you just knew that Roy Keane, who has been especially critical of the United hero this season, would have his two cents.
Keane slams Maguire for celebration
The Red Devils legend is infamously uncompromising with his analysis and wasted absolutely no time in calling Maguire ’embarrassing’ for his celebration as well as slamming his form once again.
To be fair to Keane, Ian Wright was also critical of Maguire’s timing of the celebration, but be sure to form your own opinion on the incident by checking it out alongside the punditry down below:
“That’s embarrassing, he’s been a disgrace the last few months for Man Utd.”
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 12, 2021
It’s a difficult one, isn’t it?
Is the criticism justified?
You can certainly see why seasoned professionals like Keane and Wright would be rolling their eyes at the idea that Maguire thinks scoring against Albania is effective in silencing the doubters.
That being said, for all of Maguire’s objectively poor performances this season, great swathes of the criticism has been hyperbolic because it wasn’t long ago that the England star was on top form.
It doesn’t half feel like Maguire gets an inordinately hard rap because of this ‘Fridge’ and ‘Slabhead’ imagery that constantly surrounds him on social media despite his undoubted skill and intelligence.
Has a lot of the criticism been fair, too? You’re damn right it has, but if Maguire wants to block it out for a moment of joy celebrating for England, then that’s fine by me.