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Paul Merson Feels 'Sorry' For Harry Maguire. 'I Don't Think They Play To His Strengths'

Jack Kenmare

| Last updated 

Paul Merson Feels 'Sorry' For Harry Maguire. 'I Don't Think They Play To His Strengths'

Paul Merson says Harry Maguire's teammates at Manchester United are "letting him down" because he needs more protection.

The England international has been criticised throughout the season for a number of poor performances.

Last week, he was at fault for Burnley's equaliser after allowing new signing Wout Weghorst to turn and assist Jay Rodriguez, and days later, the centre-back struggled to deal with the pace and physicality of Che Adams and Armando Broja against Southampton.

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

Maguire has certainly had his critics but former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson sympathises with the United captain. "I feel sorry for Harry Maguire, I don't think they play to his strengths," he told Sky Sports.

"The players on the pitch are letting him down, he needs more protection.

"I know people say 'oh he's £80m' but I don't care - you get someone running at you on a consistent basis and it's a big old pitch Old Trafford, you don't want to be coming out."

Merson went on to criticise those sitting in front of Maguire in midfield. He added: "Harry Maguire, you know I said from day one, I thought it would be a little bit of a struggle playing on the half-way line.

"I thought he's not blessed with a lot of pace but at the end of the day he still has to get protection. I don't care who you are as a centre-half, their holding players don't sit as the sitters, they're all over the place.

"They're having a shot on the edge of the box, over on the left, right, you're a holding midfield player you sit in front and protect the back four.

"I don't care if you're the best centre-half in the world, if you keep getting run at and there's a lot of space in the channels you're going to have a hard time."

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

In regards to the "day one" comments made this week, Merson criticised Manchester United's decision to spend £80 million on the defender, weeks after Maguire joined the ranks at Old Trafford.

"Maguire for £80 million is ridiculous at the highest level," he stated on Gillette Soccer Saturday back in 2019.

"You have to remember he ripped it up for England in a three. And when you play in a three at the back, you do that for one reason only - the defenders are not good enough and you do not trust them. He done well at England.

"But you have to remember when he plays for Leicester, they play, they drop back and defend on the edge of their box, there is no space behind. The ball comes in the middle, he heads it out, he comes out running with the ball.

"He kicks off now with Man Utd and you are on the halfway line and all of a sudden you are playing against Arsenal and you are on the halfway line and balls are going over the top for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and for Man City for Sergio Aguero and it is pace, pace, pace."

Merson also said back in August that United duo Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane could forge a partnership reminiscent of the one between Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

The former Portsmouth midfielder went on to hail Varane as the "signing of the summer in the Premier League" and claimed that the Frenchman could transform United into title contenders.

Speaking in his column for The Daily Star, Merson wrote: "Raphael Varane will turn Manchester United into title contenders -- he's the signing of the summer in the Premier League.

"I think it's as tight as it's ever been this season and there's four teams who could win the league.

"United weren't one of them but Varane changes that. I think that's a major signing. With all the class and experience he brings with him from Real Madrid, I think he's going to have a massive impact."

Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports/Alamy

Topics: Paul Merson, Harry Maguire, Manchester United

Jack Kenmare
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