Harry Maguire has a lot going for him. Strong in the air, fine long passing and an ability to maraud from the back that few centre-backs possess. The 26-year-old recently became the most expensive defender in history, after securing an £80m move to Old Trafford.
But everyone has a weakness – even Slabhead. In Maguire’s case, his kryptonite comes in a surprising form: Crystal Palace Football Club.
Across his spells at Hull, Leicester and now United, the defender has never tasted victory against the Eagles; the Red Devils’ 2-1 loss on Saturday was the latest in a string of peculiar results for Maguire. In all, the poor England man’s record against Palace makes for grim reading: 19 goals conceded in just seven games, six defeats and no wins. His (teams') best result so far is a 3-3 draw while playing for Hull.
At Leicester, his experiences against the south Londoners were miserable – not helped by the Foxes being incapable of putting in anything close to an acceptable performance against Palace over the past two seasons. During Maguire’s maiden campaign in the East Midlands (2017/18), Leicester were bested by Roy Hodgson’s side 8-0 on aggregate – a 5-0 defeat at Selhurst Park (in which even Christian Benteke scored) representing the nadir of Claude Puel’s reign.
The following season didn’t go much better. A trip to Croydon in December 2018 ended in a 1-0 defeat, before Palace dealt the killer blow to Puel’s tenure by storming to an emphatic 4-1 win at the King Power Stadium. Maguire was particularly poor in that game, losing Wilfred Zaha for the first of his two goals, before the stopper’s overly ambitious dribbling gifted his opponent another.
Maguire’s performance was similarly questionable during his most recent meeting with the Eagles, during which United’s centre-back pairing were undone by a hopeful 70-yard punt from Palace keeper Vicente Guaita. Jeff Schlupp beat Victor Lindelof in the air, allowing Jordan Ayew to exploit Maguire’s slack positioning and slot the ball past David de Gea.
It’s probably a stretch to label the 26-year-old culpable for United’s second goal, with De Gea letting his side down at his near post again. On closer inspection, however, maybe Maguire’s ball-watching would have provided Christian Benteke with an easy tap-in had Patrick van Aanholt opted to cross instead of blasting it past the Spaniard.
The defender will have to wait a while to make amends for his prior sins against Palace – United don’t face the Eagles again until May. Eighth time lucky?
Know of any other odd individual hoodoos? Tell us on Twitter @FourFourTwo...
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