Football News

Harry Maguire explains “cliche” at the heart of Man Utd’s recent rise

By Harry Edwards

Published: 13:26, 10 March 2020

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has urged his teammates to build on the foundations of a big win over Manchester City.

The Red Devils beat Man City 2-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday, completing the league double over Pep Guardiola’s side having also won at the Etihad.

Including a Carabao Cup semi-final second leg win — albeit losing the tie — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have enjoyed three victories over their neighbours this season and have come on leaps and bounds from the team struggling earlier in the campaign.

Can Man Utd finish in the top four? Five things to know…

  • Man Utd are fifth in the Premier League with nine games to go.
  • They sit three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
  • The Red Devils completed a league double over Man City thanks to a 2-0 win at Old Trafford.
  • It was the eighth clean sheet they have kept in their past 10 games across all competitions.
  • Maguire believes Man Utd’s defence has helped them pick up key results.

Despite kicking off 2019/20 with a 4-0 win over Chelsea, a run of underwhelming results saw Man Utd fall down the table as low as 14th after a draw with Liverpool on October 20th. It was at this time that calls came for Solskjaer to be sacked, as he failed to build on what was an impressive start to life as Man Utd manager.

But Man Utd’s board kept faith in Solskjaer and the Red Devils have improved, slowly making their way up the table and back into to fight for a Champions League spot.

As well as growing in the Premier League, Man Utd have enjoyed good form in the cup competitions. Alongside their run to the Carabao Cup semi-finals, Man Utd are also in the last-16 of the Europa League, where they have been handed a favourable tie against LASK, and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup where Norwich await them.

That progress has come as the result of a good run of form in which Man Utd have won seven of their past 10 games in all competitions, including wins over Chelsea and Man City, conceding just two goals.

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The win over Man City saw Man Utd remain within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for a top-four finish, with just nine games left in the Premier League.

And Maguire, who has missed just six games all season, playing 40 times, insists Man Utd have to build on the big win against their rivals to ensure they finish the campaign strongly.

“We need to build on clean sheets,” he told MUTV.

“It is a foundation. If we keep a clean sheet, it is a cliche, but, if you keep a clean sheet, it gives you every chance of going on and winning the game.

“Eight in 10. Defensively, all season, we have not been a team that has been all over the place and conceding numerous chances. We have never been that team.

“We have conceded sloppy goals at sloppy moments. Set-plays, long-range shots, special goals but, lately, we have cut it out. We have been defending set-plays and I can tell you that is a big bonus.

“It is the key to start picking up good results and that is what we have done.”

United face LASK on Thursday before travelling to Tottenham on Sunday.