Man Utd’s recent poor form could at least be in part down to the absence of club captain Harry Maguire, who remains sidelined with a calf injury sustained in the recent defeat to Aston Villa
Summer signing Raphael Varane was touted as the man to rejuvenate a flailing Manchester United defence and add some much-needed experience as the Red Devils aim to win their first trophy in more than four years.
The Frenchman started well, receiving plenty of praise after his debut against Wolves away, while his assured performances since have led some to claim the ex-Real Madrid star could be one of the signings of the summer.
However, there has been a recent drop in standard of quality from both United’s defence and the entire side as a whole – potentially down to the absence of skipper Harry Maguire.
Often in the firing line in the early stages of his Man Utd career, Maguire struggled at first to justify the staggering £80m price tag he arrived with.
Few can question the importance he now holds to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, most glaringly obvious when Maguire is unavailable for selection.
Since Maguire was helped off the Old Trafford turf and limped out of action against Aston Villa, United have looked a shadow of the side that started the season in stellar fashion – blowing Leeds away with a 5-1 opening day victory.
In their last four attempts, United have won just one game – all four have come at home, the sole victory a last-gasp 2-1 win over Villarreal in a contest that the Spaniards can consider themselves unlucky to come way from without so much as a point.
The win comes in the middle of a run that has seen United knocked out of the Carabao Cup at the hands of West Ham United for a clash both Maguire and Varane were rested for.
That defeat was quickly followed by the dramatic defeat at home to Villa where Maguire sustained his injury, the next league outing coming at home to Everton on Saturday – a dismal 1-1 draw.
The Toffees goal highlighted just how crucial Maguire is to proceedings, Everton hitting their hosts on the counter attack with both Varane and his current partner Victor Lindelof caught out of position.
Is Maguire Man Utd’s most important defender? Comment below.
As Lindelof was dragged wider than he would have liked to come and meet Abdoulaye Doucouré – Varane was left playing catch-up, sprinting back in vain to try and stop eventual goal-scorer Andros Townsend.
The four-game winless run, the majority of which has occurred in Maguire’s absence, has led to speculation over the future of boss Solskjaer.
How the Norwegian would welcome back the calming presence of Maguire as soon as possible, but as things stand the United boss is currently unsure of when his skipper will return.
Solskjaer told beIN Sports: “Let’s see, it’s still two weeks until the next game, so we’re hoping so, but we don’t know.”