Ole Gunnar Solskjaer already surprised by Harry Maguire at Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke of how Harry Maguire’s sheer stature on the pitch has already surprised him since the defender joined Manchester United.

The 26-year-old became the most expensive defender of all time earlier this week after completing an £80m transfer from Leicester City to Old Trafford.

Solskjaer confirmed at Friday’s press conference that Maguire, who has had a full pre-season, would start Sunday’s game against Chelsea.

The Norwegian also made a note of how Maguire, or ‘Slabhead’ as he is affectionately known, is essentially really, really massive.

This may just seem like a casual observation – “my god, look at the size of this fella, the sheer bloody size of him!” – but it actually cuts right to the heart of why United bought him.

In 2019, a defender must do a lot more than just defend. He has to set the tone. Passing sequences now begin with defenders, and it is their presence – their aura, as it were – at the back which underpins the tone of how a team plays. Look at John Stones calmly feeding the ball through to Fernandinho. Look at Virgil van Dijk, winning the ball and moving it back towards a counter.

At United, indecision has hallmarked how the ball is handled at the back far too often in recent years. With Maguire, they have a character who, both physically and technically, can make United seem a little taller on the pitch.

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