It is hardly a revelation to say that football fans have short memories.
Supporters have a tendency to forget things quickly, often to fit their own argument in a debate on social media or down the pub.
The sport is plagued with recency bias. There is regularly an inclination to describe a moment or a goal as the ‘best ever’, while a player who has a poor season automatically becomes a bad footballer almost overnight.
Maguire – like every single one of his United team-mates, perhaps aside from Cristiano Ronaldo – was dreadful in the 2021-22 season. Even he will admit that.
Harry Maguire suffered an injury in May 2021 and did not play for Man United again that season
Maguire had stood out for Man United and his injury sparked an end-of-season collapse
But those who have criticised him so vociferously would do well to remember just how vital Maguire was in the campaign before last, when United’s season largely fell of a cliff after he suffered an ankle injury against Aston Villa at Villa Park in May.
Maguire had played every minute in the Premier League until he was forced off late on in United’s 3-1 win following a challenge with Anwar El Ghazi.
Without Maguire, United won one of their last four matches in the league – the dead rubber away at Wolves on the final day – after losing at home to Leicester and Liverpool and drawing with already-relegated Fulham at Old Trafford.
The injury to the England star meant he was only fit for the bench in the Europa League final
At the time, United fans were desperate for Maguire to be fit for the Europa League final against Villarreal but he only made the bench.
The Red Devils lost to the Spanish side on penalties, denying Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his first trophy as manager.
We will never know, of course, but there is a strong case to be made that United would have won that final with Maguire in the team.
The now 29-year-old had been the focal point of United’s defence that season, when few could argue that he did not perform at a consistently high level throughout.
He made an impressive 86 headed clearances and won 135 aerial duels, the latter figure twice that of Manchester City’s Ruben Dias, as United finished second behind their arch-rivals.
United lost the final on penalties, but many feel they would have won with Maguire in the team
Maguire took his club form into the postponed UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, where he played a starring role in the knockout stages as England progressed to the final.
Unfortunately for the player and United, his troubles were all too evident in a deplorable campaign for the club last season.
Such was the level of derision aimed at Maguire that his absences from the team were greeted with delight from his detractors, a far cry from the year before.
Maguire has become an unwanted symbol for United’s failings both on and off the pitch with his £80million price tag regularly used as a stick to beat him with – even if he had no say in the transfer fee his current side paid Leicester for his services.
Maguire, like most of his Man United team-mates, endured a dreadful campaign last season
The arrival of boss Erik ten Hag gives Maguire a shot at a much-needed fresh start at United
Maguire has been pilloried to such an extent on social media that he could not even post a picture of his wedding – supposedly the happiest day in someone’s life – without receiving a torrent of abuse.
Thankfully for the often-maligned centre back, Twitter rarely mirrors the feelings of match-going fans, who prefer to get behind their side rather than slam players from behind a keyboard – although the mood did turn at Old Trafford towards the end of a truly forgettable season.
For Maguire, the arrival of new manager Erik ten Hag gives him the chance to put a difficult year behind him and offers him the opportunity for a much needed fresh start.
United boss Ten Hag has confirmed Maguire, 29, will remain captain ahead of the new season
Calls had grown for the England international to be stripped of the captaincy but Ten Hag has already signalled his faith in Maguire by confirming he will retain the armband.
‘Harry Maguire is our captain,’ Ten Hag said on Monday. ‘I have to get to know all the players, but he’s an established captain and he’s achieved a lot of success.’
While there is only a small sample size so far, Ten Hag appears to be a hands-on coach and one who could help Maguire recapture his previous form.
As Luke Shaw candidly admitted this week, the structure the Dutchman is trying to implement is something the club ‘haven’t had for quite a while’.
The England international has gone on United’s pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia
Yes, Maguire thrived under Solskjaer, who was hardly renowned for his tactical prowess, but having a manager like Ten Hag can only be beneficial.
Not only does the 52-year-old command authority but he has also helped nurture and develop central defenders such as Matthijs de Ligt and Lisandro Martinez, who United are hoping to sign in this summer transfer window in a £46m deal.
The tools appear to be in place but it will be up to Maguire to prove last season was an anomaly and a blip rather than the norm.