Former Manchester United coach Mike Phelan has praised Harry Maguire for the manner in which he has conducted himself in the face of the immense fan pressure especially in the last couple of years.
Maguire, who lost his place in the starting XI soon after Erik ten Hag’s arrival, has found it difficult to get back into the team and has fallen to fifth-choice in the pecking order.
This summer, he was stripped of the captaincy and officially replaced by Bruno Fernandes.
The England international is yet to start a game in the current campaign. He got his first minutes during United’s 1-3 loss at the hands of Arsenal just before the international break.
Phelan, who was part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s backroom staff and worked closely with Maguire, spoke to Sky Sports and gave some insight into the defender’s struggles at Old Trafford and how well he has managed to handle adversity.
Phelan pointed out that Maguire first played under him at Hull where the centre-back started out as a defensive midfielder before changing positions.
He explained that there were a lot of expectations when the Three Lions star completed a record move to United from Leicester City but unfortunately, all did not go according to plan.
“Having come to United, he did really well. He had composure on the ball, what he didn’t have was a settled environment of who played in front of him, who sat alongside him.
“He jumped in at the deep end a little bit. But I have a lot of respect for Harry as I listen now to what he is going through and what he has gone through, he’s handled it unbelievably professionally and that is not easy.
“Because the spotlight is on him when he does or doesn’t play. And he knows that because he’s a professional.
“The new manager comes in and wants to change captaincy, these things happens and he knows that. It’s not nice at times when you don’t know the role you’re supposed to do. He’s kept himself available, extremely professional, fit.”
Phelan added, “Yes, there has been talk about a move, it hasn’t happened. It might still happen. I know he will give everything for Manchester United until the moment he doesn’t have that shirt on.”
The 60-year-old mentioned that the Red Devils should try and play to Maguire’s strengths in an effort to get the best out of him.
He named the player’s ability on the ball, reading of the game, an eye for goal and his character as some attributes that set Maguire apart from others in his position.
As per Phelan, the 30-year-old centre-back is also brave and never shirks his responsibilities.