One of the major disappointments for Manchester United during their woeful campaign in 2021-22 has been the performances of captain Harry Maguire.
England centre back Maguire has been consistently poor for United, with only a handful of good performances dotted across the season.
During the most recent international break, Maguire was booed by the home fans at Wembley while representing England. Maguire spoke to Sky Sports ahead of Manchester United's visit to Anfield, and responded to the boos, saying that he was surprised and upset by the reception from the English fans.
Harry Maguire: Manchester United captain says this season has been toughest of his career
Harry Maguire arrived at Manchester United from Leicester City for £80 million in the summer of 2019. He was soon made captain by then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and he has divided fans ever since.
Despite playing a crucial role in United's run to 2nd place last season, and being named in the EURO 2020 team of the tournament, Maguire remains an unpopular figure among much of the fanbase, and has faced regular criticism from pundits for his inconsistency and error-prone performances.
The zenith of these struggles came last month, when Maguire was booed by England fans at Wembley. Speaking to Sky Sports on Tuesday, the United captain said he couldn't understand the negative reception, despite his struggles. He also thanked Manchester United's fans for supporting him in the aftermath of the boos at Wembley. He said:
Obviously what happened at Wembley was so strange. It was surprising, really. It was something I couldn't really understand.
To go and then play in front of 75,000 at Old Trafford and straight away get cheered and have them singing my name straight away shows what great support we have - even in these difficult circumstances.
Maguire has consistently been selected by both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prior to his sacking, and Ralf Rangnick since the German took over in December.
His talent cannot be questioned, but he has been woeful at points this season, particularly in the reverse fixture against Liverpool, when Manchester United fell to a shocking 5-0 home loss.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 19, 2022
Speaking about the performances of the team, Maguire said that this season had been the most challenging of his career, and said that United merely needed to salvage some pride from the season.
We've had a challenging season, probably the most challenging season of people's careers, for sure. We've had a tough season.
This season I've had some bad games. But I wouldn't be playing every game for Manchester United in the starting 11 if I played badly in every game. There's a reason why both managers have put me in the starting 11.
I do also understand that I'm the captain of this club, I cost a lot of money, and when things aren't going too well and we're conceding too many goals, I'm going to be criticised.
This week, reports circulated widely that Erik Ten Hag is set to take over as Manchester United manager in the summer. The role of Harry Maguire at the club will surely come in to question if and when Ten Hag arrives.
It will certainly be intriguing to see if he retains the captaincy for the 2022-23 season.