Newcastle’s 2-0 win against Manchester United saw the Magpies leapfrog Erik ten Hag’s men into 3rd. Meanwhile, Tottenham’s 1-1 draw saw the managers Spurs jump above United into 4th. Despite now sitting at 5th in the league, United have two games in hand on their North London side as the race for fourth heats up. Liverpool legend John Barnes to discuss the future of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire. Barnes also touched on whether Marcus Rashford can maintain his form for the final games of the season.
Harry Maguire could still get back into the United team
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has struggled for game time for much of the season. The England centre back has been much maligned during his time at Old Trafford. Maguire is now being linked with a move away in the summer in the hopes of getting regular club football next season. Despite the massive amounts of criticism Maguire has faced in recent years, Barnes feels as though Maguire could find his way back into the Manchester United side.
“I can’t see Maguire staying at Man United if he continues to sit on the bench but I can easily see him getting back into the starting eleven because of his qualities. He shows that every time for England so I don’t think we can conclude that he is leaving Man United.”
“But he is one of the main players for England and I think he would be a good addition to any of the top Premier League teams. Obviously, it is not going to be Liverpool or Manchester City but he has a lot of qualities that a lot of teams could benefit from.”
Rashford is on a hot streak right now says John Barnes
Despite the disappointing result against Newcastle, it has been a remarkable season for Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford. 27 goals in 45 games in all competitions with games still to be played means it could be a record breaking season for the England international. When asked if Rashford is capable of maintaining his form heading into the final stretch of the season, Barnes claims Rashford believes the forward is more than capable.
“I definitely think that he can maintain his form but that doesn’t mean that he will continue scoring as many goals. He is not a real number nine, so he is not necessarily going to score 30 goals in a season but he is on a hot streak right now.”
“But he is not a classic centre forward like Erling Haaland, so we shouldn’t judge him like one. Even if he doesn’t continue to score that many goals he is very important for the team in terms of creating chances and making the runs for his teammates.”
“So yes, he can maintain his form even if he isn’t going to score every week.”
Lisandro Martinez’s improvement
The signing of Argentinian centre half Lisandro Martinez was a noteworthy topic early on in the season. There were debates among pundits and fans regarding Martinez’s suitability to play at centre back due to his height. One of the most vocal critics was Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, who questioned Martinez’s ability following Manchester United’s 4-0 loss to Brenford. However, Martinez has since demonstrated his proficiency in leading United’s resurgence, and has even won the Carabao Cup and World Cup during this time. Although Barnes believes that Martinez may not have been able to play centre back during his era, he acknowledges that Martinez is an excellent defender who has continued to improve.
“Lisandro Martinez is a world cup winner but during his first few months at Manchester United people said he was rubbish.”
“He has improved. He has to get used to the league because he came from a different culture and a different club.”
“He has always been a good defender but he wasn’t protected well due to the way Man United were playing before the World Cup.”
“When the team defends decently as a team you can see his qualities. That’s how it is, a team has to defend as a unit.”
“He is decent on the ball. I don’t think he could´ve played in my era because the centre forwards were big and it was a different way of defending.”
“He uses his body very well and he is a great defender. The issue is not his qualities, the issue is that he will get exposed when Man United isn´t defending well – just like any other player.”