Harry Maguire’s Man Utd and England record deserves more respect than nicknames and memes

Maguire gets the criticism he deserves but never the praise he deserves as his World Cup exploits are largely overlooked given his struggles at Manchester United

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Wayne Rooney on Harry Maguire’s Man Utd form

Harry Maguire should be to blame Jamie Vardythe tedium of life in a World Cup camp in a remote part of Russiaand a nickname straight off the playground.

It’s summer 2018 and it’s Repino, a town of 2,000 people on the Gulf of Finland, so far north that it gets dark for just a few minutes a day at the end of June.

The England football team and their media entourage are based in the woods.

The mood is good, but these days are long.

Distractions are likely to be welcome for the English players, especially those who aren’t automatically starting XI.

And the daily press call is distracting.

In our working base we have a dartboard, a pool table, video games, but above all a change of scenery in a literal and human sense.

On a given day, Maguire is on duty but Vardy – a clubmate at the time – comes along to do something.

Maguire and Vardy at the 2018 World Cup


Alex Morton/Getty Images)

He taps the pool table with a few hacks before edging into the interview Maguire is giving to a dozen reporters.

“Harry, this is Jamie Vardy from the Vardy Express – what is the diameter of your head?”

And so it became public knowledge, Vardy kindly telling the gathering that Maguire’s nickname — or at least one of his nicknames — was Slabhead.

On the whole, it’s a mere triviality; very trivial.

But along with the photo of him talking to his fiancee after a game, it was one of the things some people remember of Maguire from the 2018 World Cup.

An image that has spawned a thousand memes: Harry Maguire and Fern Hawkins, now his fiancee


Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Harry the Slabhead: Sounds like good old Sunday League Knockabout stuff.

How many remember that he was one of the outstanding defenders of the tournament in Russia?

“A giant in both boxes throughout the competition,” said Gareth Southgate.

Even if it’s not even a year ago, how many remember Maguire being named to the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament?

And that’s what Maguire has to deal with.

He gets the criticism he deserves but never the praise he deserves.

There’s no denying that this has been a tough club season for Maguire.

But then he is not unique in this current Manchester United squad.

And the idea that some players believe Maguire shouldn’t be on the team is a bit rich, to say the least.

In fact, only David de Gea would have the right to defame anyone else on the Old Trafford roster.

Maguire might be in trouble right now. He could come through a longer dent. He could also suffer from playing behind a Moor-Standard midfield.

Have your say! Is Harry Maguire being treated unfairly? Join the debate here.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 05: Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on December 5, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Manchester City Central defenders, for example, enjoy the luxury of seeing their midfielders dominate possession.

There’s no excuse for some of his mistakes and for some of his sluggishness this season.

But you don’t become a mainstay of a national team that’s ranked fifth in the world and has reached the last four and the final in their last two major tournaments without being a top-flight player.

Ditto for becoming Manchester United captain.

Maguire may be going through a rough patch, but his contribution to his clubs and country in recent years should command more long-standing respect.

No matter the size of his head, he shouldn’t be a laughing stock.

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