Micah Richards has weighed in on Harry Maguire’s struggles at Manchester United by comparing the situation to the low points of his own career at Manchester City. Maguire has recently been criticised as a result of his sub-par performances for the Red Devils, who were consigned to yet another trophyless season when they were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening.
United struggled to gain a foothold in the encounter and failed to do enough to justify a place in the next round of Europe’s premier club competition after missing a number of chances to claw themselves back into contention. Maguire was at fault for Renan Lodi’s first-half winner as he stepped out of position to leave his fellow defenders unable to stop the ball from being played into the box and eventually turned in.
His unwanted contribution was the latest in a string of high-profile errors that have pushed his United career into a downward spiral over the last few months. Richards has since offered his sympathy by using an example from his own playing days to illustrate how tough it can be to cope when things are not going well.
“I couldn’t help but look at my marks out of 10 each week in the Manchester Evening News or on their website,” wrote Richards in his column for the Daily Mail.
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“The first couple of seasons were great, when I was getting sevens and eights and occasionally a nine, but then my form dipped and the numbers dropped. Sixes and fives, on bad days maybe even a four.
“The comments section on the website would drive me up the wall — ‘Micah’s always out of position’ or ‘Micah switched off again’ — and I quickly went from being linked in the transfer columns to Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea to, with the greatest respect, Bolton and Wigan.
“Harry will be aware of what is being said. He’s human, he’s got emotions and what I saw when he came off four days ago was a man carrying a heavy burden. I can only begin to imagine how challenging the last few days have been.”
Richards also believes that Maguire could benefit from temporarily handing the captain’s armband over to Cristiano Ronaldo, adding: “When Ronaldo returned last summer, the one question everyone asked was: ‘Is he going to be captain?’ Hindsight suggests United should have headed it all off and given him the responsibility because, if things aren’t going right, he knows how to deal with it with his big personality.
“More often than not — and his stunning hat-trick against Tottenham last week was the latest evidence — Ronaldo has been the man to step forward; he’s built differently to everyone else in that squad. It’s not a criticism of them, it’s a reference to the fact Ronaldo is one of a kind.
“Let me say it again: I’m not calling for Harry to be stripped of the role completely. Perhaps he could do with having the weight off his shoulders for the rest of this campaign.”
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