Maguire, Ronaldo and other players Ten Hague should get rid of
Manchester United play against Arsenal today, a crucial match in the fight for a top-four finish in the English Premier League. Ralf Rangnick still has the opportunity to leave Eric ten Hague with the valuable gift of a trip to the Champions League. The only irony is that the players, many of whom ten Hague will not be taking with him on his big voyage, will have to try for the future. Although some will not be easy to leave ashore.
Harry Maguire contract 2024/25 season
After the second major defeat of the season against Liverpool, Rio Ferdinand stated that Manchester United are preparing to leave “about 15 players”. Understandably, that number includes people with expiring contracts who will fall off on their own, but there are textbook cases in which Eric ten Hag needs to take up the coaching knife and ruthlessly “cut the meat.” Perhaps the most important and most difficult case is that of Harry Maguire.
The England defender has a contract until 2025, he is the named captain and team leader. And that status is also a problem, because Harry is absolutely no match for the regalia he has been thrust upon him, and that only makes it worse. It’s clear that Maguire “in a vacuum” is a high class defender, not the best in the world, although he cost more than all of his peers, but surely “one of a kind”. If he gets his form and thoughts in order, he might return to the top level.
Or maybe not. Or come back for a couple of months. Clubs in relationships with such players are always let down by the belief in the best human qualities and the greed of the collector, caused by the possession of nominal soccer talent. That said, years of practice suggest that mentally unstable “enfant terribles” will still disappoint in the end. Sooner or later. One way or another. The only way to win is to kick the problematic person out the door without regret.
Harry himself is not going to leave, he’s under contract until 2025, so Teng Hague and MJ will need not only willpower, but also dexterity and wit. In all seriousness, I think Maguire and Pogba are the most damaging elements of United’s locker room because they are opinion leaders and factions carrying dangerous attitudes to the masses in word and deed. Paul’s contract is running out and Harry will have to be taken out of the team in manual mode.
Eric Bayy contract 2023/24 season
Getting rid of Maguire is a matter of ideological necessity, as we are talking about a leader who broadcasts the wrong mindset and behavior, with Manchester United full of much simpler personnel challenges. In recent years, the team has accumulated so much “ballast” that not only a strong will, but also strong hands are needed to clear away the debris.
Take, for example, Eric Bayy, for whom they paid almost 40 million euros six years ago. Guess how many matches the Ivorian played for Manchester United? The correct answer is 113, that is, on average, he plays 18-19 games per season, but this is taking into account the debut campaign, in which he was on the field 40 times, then things got worse. 13, 12, 4, 12, 4 is the number of times Bayeux has appeared on the field in APL games in the last five seasons.
A deep rotation player who has already cost 70+ million euros (transfer + salary over six years) is a strong move. Manchester United has a lot of mismatches like that. And the squad seems to be rich in names, but there is no one to play. Eric ten Hague’s first order of business is to swap nominal players for real players. And preferably at a good rate.
Phil Jones contract 2022/23 season
John moved to United under Sir Alex Ferguson, although to call him a carrier of the winning tradition would be an exaggeration. Certainly, there must be an attitude toward seniority, but without violating the basic principle that a player must be of benefit to the club in one way or another. Does Jones do that? The defender has played 11 games in the last three years, and he doesn’t look like he’s “holding up the locker room” and setting mental vectors for young players. So what good is Phil to MJ?
Cristiano Ronaldo contract 2022/23 season
It may seem like the second most difficult case on par with Maguire, but in reality there should be no problem with Ronaldo. Firstly, Cristiano himself has reasons to leave Old Trafford without waiting for the decision of ten Hague and the club. It is unlikely that the Portuguese will be interested in staying without the Champions League in one of the last seasons of his career, and a family tragedy pushes for a change of scenery.
I don’t share the position of Ronaldo’s critics who blame him for MJ’s failures. You have to have a very distorted view of soccer and cause and effect to impute that to a man who, at 37, has scored 20+ goals for a crumbling team, dragged United into the Champions League playoffs and leaves them fighting for the top 4. Or is he the one pushing Greenwood to the offense, preventing Rashford and Sancho from playing, injuring Cavani?
Cristiano deserves nothing but gratitude. But at the same time, he doesn’t look like the right assistant for a team that is on the verge of rebuilding. What Ten Hag needs now is not superstars, but players with the appropriate functionality in every position. Including in the attack, where a new forward will have to be built in, and that process needs to start right away.