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Man Utd were too big for Harry Maguire – his struggles are the perfect example of the club’s chronic mismanagement of the past decade



The England defender is set to depart Old Trafford worth a fraction of when he arrived in 2019 as the world’s most expensive defender

Harry Maguire’s traumatic time with Manchester United is about to come to an end. After months of speculation about his future and weeks after being stripped of the captaincy, he is set to join West Ham for £30 million ($38.2m). Most sensible United fans will wish him luck. They suffered as much as he did.

Others, including those who booed him during the recent friendly against Athletic Club, those who taunted him on social media and the low life who sent a bomb threat to his house, will be delighted to see the back of him.Maguire’s departure from United four years after his record-breaking £80m ($101m) move from Leicester City in 2019 is a sad end to what was an exciting transfer at the time. He arrived as the most-expensive defender in the world, a rock in England’s successful World Cup campaign, and a lethal asset at set-pieces. But he leaves with his tail between his legs, worth a fraction of the amount United paid for him.He has been mocked by United and rival fans alike, and by the end of last season he was little more than a fringe player for Erik ten Hag, the Dutchman’s fifth-choice centre-back. He ended the campaign making just eight Premier League starts, and in the FA Cup final against Manchester City, he could not even get off the bench.

Greater pressure than England

Even as Maguire brings a hugely disappointing chapter of his career to an end, it should not be forgotten that he remains a vital player for England, one of the first names on Gareth Southgate’s teamsheet and a big part of the Three Lions’ revival in recent years. He barely put a foot wrong in the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, or in England’s run to the final of Euro 2020. And while Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed their penalties in the shootout against Italy, Maguire slammed his spot-kick into the top corner of the net. When he puts on an England shirt he seems to forget his troubles with United. He is not a shrinking violet.

But even though the media spotlight focuses intently on England and the pressure is huge, United are even bigger. Their fanbase is not confined to one country but is spread across the world. And the reality is that most of England’s matches are qualifiers against nations of little quality or Nations League matches of little significance. Big, crucial tests only come about in major tournaments every two years or so.

United are under massive pressure every week in the Premier League and indeed every competition they play in. And Maguire often caved in against it.