Breaking down Man Utd’s PL record with Harry Maguire & Victor Lindelof
Manchester United may be required to call back upon their old central defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof until the end of the season after the injuries suffered by Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.
The news has caused some consternation among the United fanbase but what do the numbers say?
Both Maguire and Lindelof have been demoted to the role of squad players during the 2022-23 season, with Varane largely fit and available during his second season and Martinez becoming a near ever-present following his summer arrival.
Martinez is due to undergo surgery on his right metatarsal and will miss the rest of the campaign as a result, having suffering the foot injury during the Europa League quarter-final first leg with Sevilla on Thursday night.
Varane was also taken off in midweek and United have announced that the French defender will be out for a few weeks.
Lindelof and Maguire were introduced to help see out United’s two-goal lead but Sevilla came back to draw 2-2 in the closing stages, with the injury-time equaliser coming courtesy of a Harry Maguire own goal.
“I want to make a point on Lindelof. Lindelof’s problem is Maguire, Maguire’s problem is Lindelof,” former Manchester United defender Gary Neville said on Monday Night Football while the pair were starting regularly alongside one another back in 2021.
“I think he (Lindelof) is a really good player by the way, he understands the game, he reads the game, I think he is a good defender. I think if he was alongside a (Rio) Ferdinand or Van Dijk, I think he would make a great pair.
“The problem is he is alongside somebody who isn’t the most mobile in Harry Maguire, and I think that is the problem that Lindelof has got. That actually they have invested £80m in Maguire, so they are going to have to put somebody beside him.
“I don’t think he does a good job alongside Maguire because they both just drop back a little bit and United need someone to get up the pitch. They have got to get up the pitch, they have got to be more aggressive.
“They have got to have the nerve to make the stomach churn a little bit, that there is a bit too much space in behind them than there ordinarily would be and that is what the best teams have.”
Maguire, in particular, faced a barrage of criticism for his performances as United succumbed to their lowest-ever Premier League points tally last term. He remains club captain at Old Trafford but has lost his place in the first XI following the arrival of new manager Erik ten Hag, who signed Martinez from former club Ajax.
But he has made a number of appearances as a squad player and United haven’t lost a game that Maguire has started since August. The 30-year-old England international has made 13 starts (six in the Premier League) in all competitions under Ten Hag this season.
“I’ve played nearly 200 times for Manchester United,” Maguire said while away on international duty last month.
“I’ve captained the club for three years now but I do also understand that when you are the captain of Manchester United you do come under the most amount of scrutiny. Last season at club level, my performance wasn’t good enough. Alongside everybody else at club level, not just myself.
“I know people obviously look at me not playing but when I’ve played, I think in my last eight or nine starts for Manchester United we have won.
“I can’t remember losing a game for Manchester United, it must be the third week of the season. It’s probably my last appearance where I’ve lost the game. So my influence is still there. But of course, I love playing for my country and in 50-odd caps I feel like I’ve never let my country down.”
We’ve taken a look at Manchester United’s Premier League record when Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have started alongside one another in the centre of defence:
Goals Conceded: 92
Goals Conceded per game: 1.15
Win Percentage: 52.5%
Points Per Game: 1.85