Maguire: There’s always noise around Man Utd

Daily News
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Maguire: There’s always noise around Man Utd

Harry Maguire has exclusively told Sky Sports News’ Melissa Reddy that Man Utd will always have “noise” around them as the fallout from their dramatic FA Cup semi-final continues.

Maguire almost left the club last summer, but a raft of defensive injuries has seen the England defender feature in 20 Premier League games this season.

Despite a turbulent time for Erik ten Hag’s side, they have reached the FA Cup final for a second successive season, progress to another meeting with Manchester City coming in dramatic circumstances against Coventry on Sunday.

Once again they let a lead slip late on, with officiating decisions also playing their part. Maguire’s team-mate Antony was also criticised for cupping his ear in celebration towards Coventry’s players and fans after United won the penalty shoot-out.

Reaction to Antony’s behaviour – and United’s performance in general – led Ten Hag to brand the media ’embarrassing’ as his position continues to be the subject of speculation following the arrival of minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

“I’ve been at this club a long enough time to know that the noise around the place is always here, whether it’s with the manager or the players,” Maguire said.

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Erik ten Hag labels the comments about his side’s performance against Coventry ’embarrassing’ and believes reaching the FA Cup final again should be seen as a huge achievement

“There are players under huge amounts of pressure and when you lose football matches or go on bad runs, the manager becomes under pressure as well.

“We all know that it’s about maintaining our focus and aims for the season and sticking together. We believe that we can still achieve things this season.

“We’ve got an FA Cup final to play for, Premier League games to fight in and we’re all in this together. The manager, the players, the fans, the staff, we all want the same thing and that’s to be successful.”

Giving his thoughts on the semi-final, Maguire added: “It was a really strange mix of emotions throughout the game.

Harry Maguire celebrates doubling Man Utd's lead

Image: Harry Maguire scored in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Coventry City

“The way that the game went, it was just crazy to be involved in… Going into extra-time we needed to regroup, refocus, clear our heads and do everything we could to win. We managed to do that in the end.

“I think in the couple of hours from the start of the game to the end of the game, the amount of emotion you went through, you’re just feeling probably a little bit of relief.

“I don’t think we needed to celebrate too hard. We let ourselves down in the last 20 minutes of normal time and to play for this club, it involves huge responsibility, and we didn’t take responsibility in that last 20 minutes of the game.

“You’re coming to training the next day and you’re in another FA Cup final. It’s what you dream of playing in when you’re a young boy, so the boys are really happy. We’ve had a good run along the way, obviously beating our rivals Liverpool in the quarter-final and then going to Wembley and being comfortable for the first 70 minutes.

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Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville dissect Manchester United’s narrow FA Cup semi-final win over Coventry and what the performance at Wembley could mean for Erik ten Hag and his future at Old Trafford

“But like I said, the way that the game ended, we were disappointed with the way we acted.”

It has become somewhat of Man Utd’s calling card in recent weeks to throw away a lead. They did so against Brentford, Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League, before also being pegged back by Coventry.

“We’re trying to improve ourselves day in, day out,” Maguire reflected. “We’re trying to improve not just holding onto leads, but getting leads.

“In the last 10 to 15 minutes [of games] at the start of the season, we were scoring a lot of late goals to win matches so it’s flipped on the other side at the moment.

“We’ve got to do the basics better. We’ve got to defend our box better. We’ve got to get out and block shots, block crosses, don’t be outnumbered in the box when a cross is coming in. It’s just the simple things and basics of seeing out a game of football.

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag gives his opinion on Antony’s full-time celebration against Coventry in the FA Cup semi-final

“And in the last month or two, we’ve had some soft penalties against ourselves as well… if they weren’t given as on-field decision, they would have gone to VAR and they wouldn’t have been overturned. That’s the margins that this game brings.

“I’m not talking about one or two penalties, it’s probably five or six now. It’s been frustrating… it’s cost us a lot of points, but on the other hand we’ve got to make sure that we do the basics and defend a lot better to see the game through.

Asked if there is a psychological component to it, Maguire said: “Maybe. Football’s a strange game. When you’re winning football matches, it brings confidence. When you get hurt and concede late on in the next game, you’re thinking about that a little bit.

“But there’s so much experience in our team that we know we can do better. We’ve got to improve on that aspect. This club demands winning football matches and you’ve got to be able to see games out better than what we’ve shown in the last month or so.”

Whether or not Ten Hag remains at the club, this summer will likely bring about big change at Man Utd. It will be the first transfer window for new part-owner Ratcliffe and his new staff, and Maguire has praised the attitude they have bought to the club.

He said: “They’ve brought a lot of positivity to the club and to the fan base. I think there will be changes and rightly so.

“The club is wanting to get back to where it was 15 years ago, and that’s fighting for the big trophies and league titles. They’ve come in and had conversations with us all. It’s been really positive and a good energy that they’ve brought to the club.

“I’m sure they have a plan. We know what their vision is and it’s a vision to win. When Sir Dave [Brailsford, head of sport for Ratcliffe’s company INEOS] has come in, he spoke about winning and that’s the main focus of this club. That’s what this club is all about.”

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