It was a night of remembrance at Old Trafford on Tuesday night but also an evening of redemption. Or at least something towards that.
manchester united paid homage to the great Sir Bobby Charlton in a fitting way before Harry Maguire and Andre Onana went some way to restoring their reputations as United beat FC Copenhagen to kick start their champions league campaign.
Maybe Onana even took the shine off Maguire’s match-winning header with his match-winning penalty save. But while the keeper has been under the cosh with big errors after a big-money arrival in the summer, it’s Maguire’s reemergence which is more impressive considering he was heading for the exit door just a few months ago.
When Erik ten Hag gave the green light for United to sell the England defender after he had taken the captaincy from him, it looked like curtains for Maguire at Old Trafford.
Yet here he was on Tuesday night powering in a header that meant United’s Champions League dream goes on.
The fact it has followed two impressive premier league performances against Brentford and Sheffield United either side of the international break has seen talk that Maguire may be on the road back to becoming a regular at United.
Meanwhile, without the former captain on the team sheet, it is 22 of 42 games won – a win rate of just 54%. There’s no doubt Maguire has improved this season and maybe losing the weight of the captaincy has helped. But there may be too much stock put in that stat when you dig a little deeper into it.
The list of clubs United beat with Maguire starting since last October reads: FC Copenhagen, Sheffield United, Brentford, crystal Palace , Real Betis, Fulham (twice), Nottingham Forest, Everton, Leeds, Bournemouth, Westham(twice), Reading, Charlton and Aston villa
Now the Palace win was this season in the EFL Cup, when Roy Hodgson’s men didn’t offer much threat, before they beat United at Old Trafford in the Premier League.
Then there’s the stat which has been bandied about for the last week, which now reads United have won 16 of the last 17 games which Maguire has started in the last 12 months. It is an impressive win rate of 97%.
They drew that night before he started the second leg and the Red Devils lost 3-0, meaning when Maguire was on the pitch they conceded five against the Spaniards.
His other two starts in the Premier League last season were a home defeat by Brighton and a four-goal thrashing at Brentford, but they’re not included in the favourable run. That’s no criticism of Maguire, it’s just painting the picture a bit more vividly than just a basic stat.
The England defender’s performances in the last three games should give him hope and, as the chants from the Stretford End showed, he’s winning back the fans at Old Trafford.
But now the real test. The arrival of manchester city on Sunday. At the moment, even the return to fitness of Luke Shaw could force Maguire back to the bench.