Sky Sports News pundit Paul Merson has admitted that he spoke too harshly about Harry Maguire ahead of Manchester United’s thumping 4-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday.
The former Arsenal player attacked Maguire’s £80m pricetag and indicated that the England defender was not worth that amount of money.
In response, Maguire produced a defensive masterclass, relentlessly winning headers as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side thundered towards an epic 4-0 victory over the Blues.
Speaking soon after the game, Merson, to his credit, admitted that his words were too harsh, adding that he had spoken to Maguire to smooth things over.
Paul Merson: “I thought I was very critical of him [Maguire] on Saturday if I’m being honest, on Soccer Saturday. I tried to get hold of him today, I’ll talk to him tomorrow, he text me back. I thought I was a bit critical if I’m being honest." #mulive [sky]
— utdreport (@utdreport) August 12, 2019
The sad thing is that Merson probably did not believe what he was saying about Maguire on the first place. That Sky Sports desk, with Jess Stelling setting a tone of Big Football Opinions, requires Merson – something of a comical figure – to play this contrarian role.
“He can’t wear bright green boots and expect to score from there, Jeff, he just can’t… how do you pronounce this guy’s name?”
Mother Content needs this injection of nonsense, of course, but Merson – or whoever prepared that angle for him – went too far in tone and extent when it came to Maguire, who is comfortably one of the best defenders in world football.