December 1, 2021

Harry Maguire: Manchester United captain on Jadon Sancho, winning trophies and taking a knee | Football News

“Of course, this is the time when we need to start delivering. We need to…

“Of course, this is the time when we need to start delivering. We need to start winning trophies because we’ve proved over the past couple of years that we can be competitive again.”

For Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, the wait has gone on too long. For a club once so used to winning silverware, four full seasons have now passed without a major trophy.

The 2017 Europa League remains the most recent addition to the Old Trafford trophy cabinet, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still waiting for his first title as manager.

Harry Maguire and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
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Maguire and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are hoping to win Manchester United’s first major trophy since 2017 this season

That moment could have arrived in May had a mammoth penalty shootout against Villarreal tipped in United’s favour. A victory that surely would have capped a successful season – following the second-best league finish post-Sir Alex Ferguson – slipped away and the campaign ended in frustration instead.

“For this club, you demand to win trophies every season so to not win one since I’ve been here – obviously two years now – it’s a disappointment,” Maguire told Sky Sports News ahead of United’s season opener against Leeds on Saturday.

United have made steady progress under Solskjaer, though. A third-place finish and three cup semi-finals in the Norwegian’s first full season in charge, followed by a runners-up spot and a European final in his second, suggests the club is moving in the right direction.

“We’ve made progress in terms of what we’ve done as a club and who we can compete against – the top teams around the world – and that’s where we’re at now,” Maguire said.

“Of course, this is the time when we need to start delivering. We need to start winning trophies because we’ve proved over the past couple of years that we can be competitive again.”

Harry Maguire scored in Manchester United's 4-0 pre-season friendly win over Everton
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Maguire scored in Manchester United’s 4-0 pre-season friendly win over Everton on Saturday

‘Sancho can be a star’

United’s activity in the transfer market this summer has been particularly impressive, too.

Raphael Varane’s imminent arrival signals the club’s immediate intent to bring back the glory days, while Jadon Sancho has the potential to become a legend at Old Trafford.

“I think he’s been linked with us for a couple of seasons now and it felt a bit like my transfer when I was joining Manchester United, where it didn’t happen one season but the following season we managed to get it over the line,” Maguire said of Sancho’s move.

“I’m really excited for him, he’s an exceptional talent. He’s the type of player – with the confidence he has – who can be a real star for this club and I feel like in the future and the success we have, he can have a big part to play.”

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Solskjaer says Jadon Sancho is one of the most creative forwards in Europe and is excited to see his progression at Manchester United

Maguire: We must improve again

United finished 33 points behind 2020 Premier League winners Liverpool in Maguire’s first full season at the club.

Fast forward one year and Solskjaer’s side had closed the gap on current champions Manchester City to 12 points – progress, but still not where they want to be.

“I think this season is going to be more competitive than ever,” Maguire said. “We’ve strengthened and the other clubs around us have strengthened as well. There’s a lot of great teams in this league.

“You’ve seen in the past that those fine margins can create a 10-point gap from where you were last season.

“Of course, Manchester City won the league last season and they’re a top team. They’ve obviously signed Jack (Grealish) who I know really well, he’s a top player so they’re going to be strong.

“Chelsea, Liverpool too – whoever puts good runs together and remains focused – but the most important thing for us is concentrating on ourselves.

“We’ve got to improve on last season and we’ll aim to do that.”

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Solskjaer says he’s very happy with Manchester United’s transfer business so far this summer

‘Taking a knee shows where we stand’

Earlier this month, Premier League players from all 20 clubs confirmed they will continue to take a knee during the upcoming 2021/22 season to highlight their opposition to racism.

Following the online abuse received by Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka after missing penalties for England in the Euro 2020 final, Maguire insists making the gesture has not lost its value.

“It was obviously a disappointing end to the Euros and then to come off the pitch and see the abuse that some of our players received was very disappointing,” he said.

“As a group of players we gave absolutely everything for our country, we gave everyone a great six weeks and every player who stepped on that pitch gave everything they could. The abuse the lads received after the game just wasn’t acceptable.

Rashford and Manchester City captain Fernandinho take a knee
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Manchester United and Manchester City players take a knee before a match last season

“I think it’s really important to continue to take a knee. I think it shows where we as Premier League players stand, as clubs as well.

“I think from the start of the Euros until the end of the Euros you saw how much it progressed and how much support it got, especially in the final.”

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