Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær insists he has not considered taking over Harry Maguire’s captaincy.
Maguire has endured a fierce season after a flawless European Championship, but he has never been dropped since joining United for £ 80 million in August 2019, and Solskjær appointed him captain when Ashley Young left five months later.
The 28-year-old scored in both England’s victories over Albania and San Marino earlier this month, celebrating his goal against the former by pricking up his ears in an overt response to criticism of his form.
Roy Keane, who was present at Wembley on expert watch, described Maguire’s reaction as ’embarrassing’ and described his form as ‘a disgrace’. Solskjær is close to Keane, but believes Maguire will “prove critics wrong”.
“As a team, we have not performed at the standard we know we can, and at the levels we need to be at,” said Solskjær. “Harry, as Gareth rightly said, he’s not someone hiding on the treatment table or trying to find any excuse to sit out the fights.
“Harry is a top professional who wants to be there for the manager every single time and he trains really well. I think this week will go away and score a few goals for his country, will help on his form and self confidence.
“For me, no, I have not considered taking any captaincy from him. He has been an absolute fixture for us on and off the field since he came on.
“His family, his club, we are all very happy for him and everyone supports him and he is such a top professional and he will prove that the critics are wrong.
“The so-called experts have their opinions and it’s their job to say their opinion, it’s not something we have to worry too much about. As a true example of a Man United player, Harry is always there for his team and his country. “
United take on Watford on Saturday after winning one of their last six Premier League matches. They are already nine points from leading Chelsea and also five points from the final Champions League qualifier.
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Solskjær said in the open section of his press conference before the match that United had ‘corrected a few things’ in the training during the week and elaborated on it in the section with embargo.
“We have gone to matches where we have submitted chances,” he explained. “We can not concede easy chances against any team. We play against a Watford team that is well organized, very good for counter-attacks and very good for set-plays.
“When you focus on this match, you have to make sure that your defense is right, and then it’s probably the dark side of football that you know you have to work on, and we’ve fixed a lot of things.
“But the patterns, the timing, the relationship on the pitch when we also have the ball and it has looked really good in training and now we have to transfer it to the match.”