Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been urged to strip Harry Maguire of the club’s captaincy with the player’s authority again being questioned.
Maguire endured a tough season for United last year as they missed out on the top four, with his performances frequently slammed. With the club now under a new regime with Ten Hag joining from Ajax, there have been claims that the Dutchman could appoint a new skipper.
These reports are nothing new, given that there was frequent talk that Cristiano Ronaldo could take over from Maguire as United’s campaign fell apart last term. That is something that BBC Sport have reported led to a split in the United dressing room, with Maguire left unhappy.
The suggestion that a rift has developed among United squad has now led former Premier League striker Darren Bent to again question Maguire’s authority. Instead, he believes that Ronaldo’s achievements in his career means that he would be a more respected voice.
“Whoever’s the captain you will listen to. But of course when it’s coming from a place of authority and someone you are maybe going to listen to a little bit more, of course Cristiano Ronaldo,” Bent told talkSPORT.
“He’s played at the very, very top, he captains his country, we’ve seen him captain his country to major honours, he is a leader. I’ve always said it should be him or De Gea. A lot of people have said they don’t like goalkeepers as their captain.
“But you look at De Gea last season. I know Ronaldo got a lot of the plaudits but David De Gea last season was incredible. He was getting pushed out to the media quite a lot as well. He was giving open responses about Manchester United’s form. I think it can only be one of those two.”
Given his poor performances as United imploded, Bent also believes the time is right to take the armband off Maguire. If Ten Hag does follow his advice, Bent said Maguire may enjoy playing without that the pressure that comes with being United captain.
“I haven’t got a problem with him being captain, but last season was not good for him. His performances weren’t great. Then he was getting pushed out to the media, having to answer awkward questions. But when you’re a captain these things happen, you have to take that responsibility,” he added.
“You look at the two players, Ronaldo and De Gea, they’re both going to start. Ronaldo scored 24 goals, De Gea was brilliant in goal. I’m not quite sure Harry Maguire’s going to start, so that’s got to come into consideration.
“If you’ve got any reservations about Harry Maguire as a player about whether he fits into your starting XI, he can’t be your captain. Whoever you make captain, you’ve got to be sure he’s going to feature massively.
“He’s been playing awfully with the armband, how much worse can he get? You take the armband off him I think that might relieve the pressure. It might just free him up a little bit to relax and go back into playing the way we know he can do.”