Victor Lindelof’s moment to forget shows Manchester United fans can’t blame Harry Maguire – Casey Evans

This season Harry Maguire has made several high-profile mistakes as he struggled to find form in the final months of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s career at Manchester United.

Some of these came during United’s 4-2 loss to Leicester City, their 5-0 loss to Liverpool and their 3-2 hard-fought win against Atalanta in the Champions League. This poor form turned the general opinion of the fan base against the defender.

Under Ralf Rangnick, there has been a clear uptick in United’s defence, with fewer goals scored and even some clean sheets. However, United fans still felt that the partnership with the centre-back needed to be changed.

And they got their wish in United’s FA Cup game against Aston Villa, where the team lined up with Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane due to injury before Maguire, and almost predictably there was still chaos.

The moment that probably showed this best was when the midfielders showed up high to try and regain possession; Aston Villa played a long ball over the top, which Lindelof couldn’t control. Ollie Watkins then jumped the loose ball and nearly scored from the resulting shot.

This showed that any United defender can make a mistake, but also that it is the system that causes the problems by not protecting them.

Both Scott McTominay and Fred pushed high up the field as part of Rangnick’s system to pressure the opponent. Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot occupy senior positions to be both part of the press and ready to be part of the counter; it leaves Lindelof and Varane with at least a third of the field to defend alone.

Both Liverpool and Manchester City prevent this by having elite defensive midfielders who are always further back to avoid overloading if the opposition opposes them. United have no Rodri or Fabinho to often find themselves in this position.

But this doesn’t solve the problem of long balls over the top, and this is where David de Gea’s role comes into question.

At the aforementioned moment, Lindelof was blamed for creating the chance for Watkins, but had De Gea been more proactive he could have come out of the penalty area and claim the ball before the striker had a chance to take control of it.

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De Gea is in excellent form at shot-stopping, but some fans have questioned him in scenarios where he can claim the ball or get out of his penalty area to avoid stoking the fires rather than extinguishing them reactivity.

Rangnick must resolve this issue quickly and with a transfer window in which he can recruit a defensive midfielder and a reserve goalkeeper who could provide a solution to De Gea’s lack of mobility. A potential solution to one of United’s main problems seems clear, and it is not Maguire.

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