Out of favour Harry Maguire praises Manchester United's strength in depth

Harry Maguire of Manchester United applauds the supporters after the Emirates FA Cup third round match between Manchester United and Everton on 6 January, 2023 at Old Trafford in Manchester, United Kingdom.
(Image credit: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Harry Maguire has commended Manchester United (opens in new tab)'s squad depth, having lost his place as a regular in Erik ten Hag's starting 11.

Despite being club captain, the England centre-back has started just four Premier League games this season – with Ten Hag even preferring Luke Shaw in the middle of the back four lately.

But Maguire – who made his first league start since October in United's 3-0 win over Bournemouth (opens in new tab) earlier this month– isn't feeling sorry for himself, instead highlighting the importance of 'competition for places' all over the pitch. Ahead of Sunday's huge trip to Arsenal (opens in new tab), the 29-year-old said (opens in new tab):

"I think [substitutes] throughout our season have been really important: they've scored some crucial goals; players have come on and had a big impact in the game – so we know it's a squad game.

"Obviously, everyone want to start and everyone's disappointed when they don't start the games, but that's the way it should be because we're all footballers; we're all competitive; we want to play football.

"But we've also got to be ready when we're called upon. I think our fixture list from now until the end of the season is relentless – not much break, not much rest in between games – so I'm sure fresh legs will be used. And I think if you're going to be a successful squad, it's so important to have competition for places in each position – and I think we've got that in this team now."

Maguire has been linked with a move away from United during the January transfer window – with Newcastle (opens in new tab) and West Ham (opens in new tab) both rumoured to be interest – but he seems quite content at Old Trafford despite his relative lack of game time.

And with Ten Hag's men still fighting on four fronts (the Premier League plus both domestic cups and the Europa League), the skipper should still see his fair share of action this term.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...