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Should Harry Maguire be given a break after poor Manchester United and England form?


Harry Maguire’s nightmarish start to the season continued with his England red card on Wednesday night.

Two reckless tackles for two yellow cards at Wembley spoke of a player whose confidence appears shot and one in desperate need of a break.

Following the ordeal of his conviction in Greece following a nightclub altercation and then sub-standard early season performances for Manchester United, Maguire is feeling the pressure.

Maguire's season has been a nightmare to say the least amid problems on and off the field

Maguire’s season has been a nightmare to say the least amid problems on and off the field

The defender was sent off for two reckless tackles during England's midweek loss to Denmark

The defender was sent off for two reckless tackles during England’s midweek loss to Denmark 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could take the opportunity to rest Maguire and take some pressure off

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could take the opportunity to rest Maguire and take some pressure off

The international fortnight offered a change of scenery but no improvement in fortunes and life isn’t about to get any easier.

United have a daunting run of fixtures that includes meetings with Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Arsenal in the next three weeks.

Man United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Saturday Newcastle United (A)

Tuesday Paris Saint-Germain (A)

Champions League group stage

October 24 Chelsea (H)

October 28 RB Leipzig (H)

Champions League group stage

November 1 Arsenal (H)

November 4 Istanbul Basaksehir (A)

Champions League group stage

So should United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer take the opportunity of Saturday night’s visit to Newcastle United to give Maguire a bit of a rest?

Former United defender Rio Ferdinand certainly thinks so, saying: ‘In these situations – that I’ve been in as well – you sometimes need to be taken out of the oven.

‘Whether maybe it’s time to give him a little rest, let him gather himself and build that confidence back up.

‘I got brought off in one game, I think it was Middlesbrough away, the manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] spoke to me and said ‘get yourself back to basics, train well and you’ll come back in.’

‘That’s what happened and I was fine. It’s just sometimes that bit of pressure being taken out can actually help you.’

Another leading pundit, Jamie Redknapp, also expressed sympathy for Maguire and what he’s going through.

‘I feel sorry for him. It would be easy to rip him apart,’ he said.

‘He’s having a really bad moment in his career that he is somehow going to have to pull himself together and he’s got a big weekend coming up.’

But should Maguire actually feature against Newcastle or is this the ideal opportunity for Solskjaer to take some of the heat off his captain?

Sportsmail’s reporters offer their opinions on the Maguire situation.

ROB DRAPER

No. Not yet. It might be necessary at some point but Maguire had a good game on Sunday, followed by an awful one on Wednesday. 

Obviously the 6-1 is weighing on his mind as well, but that was collective tactical failure. 

His form has been patchy for a while so I wouldn’t overreact to Wednesday night. Ultimately he has to play himself into good form. That starts now.

Maguire gets to grips with Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku during England's win last weekend

Maguire gets to grips with Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku during England’s win last weekend

DANIEL MATTHEWS

Yes.

Manchester United have a very tough run of games after this weekend’s trip to Newcastle. 

Solskjaer must give Maguire the best chance to be ready (and firing) for PSG, Chelsea, Leipzig and Arsenal. His performances – and Newcastle’s – suggest he shouldn’t be much of a miss this weekend.

But the damage done if he cannot arrest this slump will soon begin to snowball.

Maguire’s confidence looks shot, his displays reek of mental and physical fatigue.

So give him a break from the cameras and a breather during from this relentless schedule. The easy call would be to play him and hope he rediscovers some form on the job.

But Ole should be brave, ignore the noise and answer one simple question: is this costume of Maguire good enough for his team?

There are signs Maguire is physically and mentally shot following a short and difficult summer

There are signs Maguire is physically and mentally shot following a short and difficult summer

KIERAN GILL

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shouldn’t drop Harry Maguire. Any England fan should be wanting him starting for his club. 

The best way for the Manchester United defender to recover his form is by getting back on that horse. Gareth Southgate clearly likes him and will be using him at Euro 2020. So let’s get his confidence back.

MATT BARLOW

That very much depends on his frame of mind. From afar, it’s true, he looks mentally drained and ready for a rest. 

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaching staff will have a better idea about that. 

He is Manchester United’s best centre-half and they have to get him back to the top of his game as quickly as possible. 

Most footballers prefer to play through the tough times and back into form, and Maguire is not the type of personality to hide from the pressure. 

He will want to play and to leave him out against Newcastle would eat at his confidence and increase any doubts in his mind about his ability to overcome this blip. 

United must show him support and made the right judgment but it will be better if they can keep him on the pitch.

Maguire gets a bruising from Newcastle striker Andy Carroll during last season's meeting

Maguire gets a bruising from Newcastle striker Andy Carroll during last season’s meeting

IAN LADYMAN

It depends on fitness of other players. But if possible, yes. A club like Manchester United should have enough depth to cope without one of their players for a game or two, even if he is the captain. 

I was at Wembley on Wednesday and Maguire’s half an hour performance prior to his sending off was bad as anything I have seen from an individual player for quite some time. 

He looks like a player who has lost confidence to the extent that he can no longer do the simple things. 

A game at Newcastle is a game that United should be able to win without Maguire but they have tougher tests ahead and it is important to get Maguire right for those. 

I would actually send Maguire away for a few days and encourage him to recharge. I would not even take him to the north-east. If Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly are fit, they should play this weekend.

Solskjaer would likely turn to Victor Lindelof (left) and Eric Bailly (right) in Maguire's absence

Solskjaer would likely turn to Victor Lindelof (left) and Eric Bailly (right) in Maguire’s absence

JOE BERNSTEIN

No, Harry Maguire should play. He’s been error-prone this season but, like Harry Kane, improves with miles on the clock. Leaving him out now would be self-defeating.

United were a defensive mess against Spurs but the reaction to his England red card has been over the top. He won enough of the ball to indicate the second yellow was unfortunate.

If the incident had happened during the World Cup when Maguire was popular, people would be screaming injustice.

There are suggestions he is mentally gone because of the trouble he’s facing in Greece. United will be able to tell in training but I’d be surprised. 

This is a player who has done the hard yards at Sheffield United and Hull to become Manchester United captain.

Maguire and United in general had a lacklustre performance as they lost at Newcastle last year

Maguire and United in general had a lacklustre performance as they lost at Newcastle last year

ADRIAN KAJUMBA

In normal circumstances, the answer would be yes. Harry Maguire’s shaky displays for club and now country would warrant him being taken out of the firing line.

However, it is a damning indictment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s alternative options that Manchester United may still look weaker without Maguire, even with the form he is in.

Victor Lindelof is simply not good enough while Eric Bailly has struggled for consistency of fitness and form.

Axel Tuanzebe is talented but has been injury hit and is just back from his latest setback. Big things are expected of Teden Mengi but he is just starting out and it might be too much to expect him to come in and shore up United’s defence immediately. 

Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, meanwhile, are well out of the picture at Old Trafford. 

If he had reliable senior alternatives this situation would be an easier decision for Solskjaer. Without them he may have to hope Maguire can play his way back into form.

Maguire with his usual defensive partner at United, Victor Lindelof. The Swede was replaced by Eric Bailly for the 6-1 defeat to Tottenham last time out

Maguire with his usual defensive partner at United, Victor Lindelof. The Swede was replaced by Eric Bailly for the 6-1 defeat to Tottenham last time out

TOM COLLOMOSSE

Yes. The surprise to me is that this question is being asked only now. 

Maguire deserves to be dropped for one simple reason – he was woeful in the last game for his club, Manchester United, and his poor performance contributed to a 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford by Tottenham. 

This alone would justify Solskjaer leaving him, and many others, out of the starting XI at Newcastle on Saturday. 

Any defender in a team who had conceded six goals at home in their previous match could not expect to keep their place in the team automatically for the next game. 

Since Maguire was sent off for England against Denmark on Wednesday, there has been plenty of talk about needing to give him a mental break as much as a physical one, but only those closest to the 27-year-old can possibly know his state of mind. 

So the argument is simple: he’s part of a defence who have let in 11 goals in three league matches. Of course his spot should be at risk.

Maguire waits for the inevitable after a poor tackle on Denmark's Kasper Dolberg at Wembley

Maguire waits for the inevitable after a poor tackle on Denmark’s Kasper Dolberg at Wembley

JACK GAUGHAN

I’m not sure whether United can afford to drop him, although the knock picked up against Denmark may offer a good opportunity for a natural break. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not blessed with a bounty of solid defensive options and even a Maguire wrestling with his own performances might be a more viable option than some of the others. 

Maguire is the sort of leader who will want to correct his form in the next available game and sometimes that is the best way of getting out of a slump.

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