Erik ten Hag’s change of heart regarding Harry Maguire’s position speaks volumes as the Manchester United manager reversed his previous stance…

In a recent game, Ten Hag opted to deploy Maguire in his favored left-sided central defensive position, which marked a significant shift from his earlier statements.

Maguire’s performance in this role during his first start of the season was impressive. Notably, Ten Hag had categorically ruled out the possibility of Maguire occupying this position less than six months ago. However, the 30-year-old found himself in the left-sided central defensive role during Tuesday night’s EFL Cup triumph against Crystal Palace, partnering alongside Raphael Varane at the core of Ten Hag’s defensive lineup.

Previously, Maguire had faced competition from players like Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw, who, despite being primarily a left-back, had overtaken him in the same position last season. Victor Lindelof, a Swedish defender, had also frequently been chosen over Maguire for this role in the past year.

This reshuffling had seen Maguire lose his place in Ten Hag’s preferred starting defense, with Varane firmly securing the right-sided central defensive spot. In the recent match against Crystal Palace, Varane even captained the team, indicating a growing understanding and partnership between the two defenders.

It’s worth noting that Manchester United’s defense in this match featured several changes due to the absence of players like Martinez, Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Sergio Reguilon. Varane and Maguire had only just returned to full fitness themselves. Sofyan Amrabat, making his first start for the club, took on the left-back role. However, the most notable change was Maguire’s selection in the left-sided position.

Speaking after a win against Nottingham Forest last season, Ten Hag had firmly rejected the idea of Maguire returning to his preferred left-sided central defensive role, stating, “Not this season.” He explained that the angles and defensive challenges on the left side were not favorable for Maguire and that Victor Lindelof, with his ability to use both feet, was better suited for the role.

Nevertheless, in the recent match, Maguire showcased his adaptability by performing well in the left-sided position, even drifting wider on occasion to create a back three formation.

He appeared comfortable in this role, contributing to the team’s build-up play from deep. The introduction of Lindelof in the second half saw Maguire gain more playing time, emphasizing his importance to Ten Hag’s plans for the season ahead.

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