LONDON (AFP) – Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire on Tuesday (Nov 3) rejected former captain Roy Keane’s assertion the team lacks leadership and heart after a terrible start to their Premier League campaign.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are languishing in 15th spot in the table with just a single point from their four home games.
That is in sharp contrast to their form in the Champions League, with a 2-1 win against last season’s finalists Paris Saint-Germain and a 5-0 thumping of RB Leipzig already under their belts.
Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal meant United had failed to win any of their opening four top-flight games at Old Trafford for the first time since 1972/73.
Keane, who is now a TV pundit, was scathing in his assessment of his former club, saying he did not “see guys you want to be in the trenches with, guys you trust” and that the team lacked leaders.
But Maguire rejected those comments as the players prepare to fly to Turkey for Wednesday’s Group H match against Istanbul Basaksehir.
“I can for sure say there are a lot of leaders in the squad,” said the England international.
“I am the captain and I’ve got a lot of leadership around me as well, staff and players, so, for sure, there’s a lot of leaders in this squad.”
Solskjaer was also asked about Keane’s remarks but avoided criticising his players or former team-mate.
“Roy has always been outspoken and I’m very glad that I’ve got the players that we have here with us,” said the Norwegian boss.
“We’ve got different jobs and Roy’s job is to give his opinion and I always listen to Roy.
“But we move on here with a great group of players, strong group of players, and I’m sure we’ll see a response.”
Last week’s win against last season’s semi-finalists was a memorable Champions League debut for Maguire – he missed the opening game against PSG – who has had a troubled season on and off the pitch.
The 27-year-old was handed a 21-month suspended prison sentence by a Greek court following an incident during a pre-season break to Mykonos. The defender denies the charges against him and launched an appeal.
Maguire has not been at his best since returning to action with United and was sent off for England in last month’s Nations League loss to Denmark but the central defender said he was fully focused.
“My mind’s fully focused on football,” he said. “Obviously I had a difficult period in the summer but, no, I am fully focused. I come into training each day, work as hard as I can.”
Maguire is confident United are on the right track after defensive problems earlier this season that resulted in a 6-1 home hammering by Tottenham.
“I feel like since the international break defensively we have been really good, we haven’t conceded many chances at all,” he said.