EPL

Ferdinand defends Maguire and makes Pique comparison to struggling Man Utd captain

By Sports Desk April 12, 2022

Rio Ferdinand has defended Harry Maguire's Manchester United form, with the ex-England man comparing his struggles to those of Gerard Pique when he played for the club.

The centre-back became the most expensive defender in history when he arrived at Old Trafford from Leicester City in 2019.

Yet he has struggled to replicate the form he has enjoyed for Gareth Southgate's Three Lions since his capture, particularly during a dismal 2021-22 campaign.

Ferdinand has backed the United captain however, pointing to the combination of differing styles between club and country that may have left him shortchanged at the Red Devils.

"In an England shirt he’s been nothing but phenomenal," he said on YouTube show Vibe with FIVE. "He’s been unreal. You can’t say he’s a dead player, he’s been unbelievable for England.

"What I’m saying is, for England he’s been great, but they play a particular way of football that probably suits him."

Ferdinand pointed to Barcelona stalwart Pique, who emerged as one of the game's modern greats after leaving Manchester for Camp Nou, to reinforce his suggestion about adapting to the game.

"Gerard Pique was at Man United, you could argue that he might not have had the career that he’s had at Barcelona if he stayed at Man United because of the way he plays," he added.

"It’s like boxing, styles make fights – it’s the same in football. The way of Man United’s football, and the way that they are trying to play, hasn’t suited him.

"But [there is] also form and confidence. His confidence has taken a big knock.

"I don’t care who you are. You could be Messi, Ronaldo, Zidane, Mbappe all these players – if their confidence is low they are not the same player."

Maguire's form has not seen him dropped from the international set-up however, unlike team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, both of whom were left out by England in March.

Even without a reversal of fortunes, the centre-back will be expected to feature heavily for the Three Lions when they head to the Qatar 2022 World Cup at the end of the year.

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    The visitors led by two goals after Ilkay Gundogan's penalty and Kai Havertz's expert long-range finish punished the Three Lions.

    However, three goals in the space of 12 minutes from Luke Shaw, Mason Mount and Harry Kane had already-relegated England in front with seven minutes to play.

    An error from goalkeeper Nick Pope allowed Havertz to make it 3-3 late on, but head coach Flick acknowledged Germany must be better at protecting a lead in Qatar.

    "The result is very disappointing. I think we were very stable after 2-0 and we made individual mistakes, and you have to say that England brought in two fresh players who then also played a part in making England more effective offensively," Flick said.

    "We made individual mistakes and that's why it's disappointing. 

    "You have to look at the whole game and I think we did many things well, really well. In a phase where we got the three goals, that shouldn't happen to us, because especially at a World Cup, things like that are of course deadly and you're eliminated faster than you think. 

    "Therefore, if you look at it positively, you simply have to say that we know what we can work on. 

    "We'll analyse the game properly again because, of course, at first glance, I've seen the goals conceded, just once or twice now, and that's partly individual, where we sometimes made the mistakes. And everyone has to do their job over 90 minutes and we have to work on that."

    Flick, though, was effusive in his praise of Bayern Munich star Jamal Musiala, who was a constant thorn in England's side and drew the foul from Harry Maguire for Germany's opener from the spot.

    "Jamal just showed why he is an exceptional talent. He got us the second goal from in his own half and he's both defensive and offensive, I think he's a player that's good for us," Flick added.

    "And simply by his dribbling ability, he can pull out situations like penalties, but of course also he can move opponents around, one or two players are out of position and then it's a different situation. 

    "Then we have more room, more space and those are the things that are good for us."

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    – Corriere dello Sport is reporting Chelsea plan to increase their previous offer of £44.5m for 26-year-old Inter defender Denzel Dumfries, and would be willing to loan him back to the Italian club for the remainder of the season if they can come to an agreement in January.

    – With Manchester United reportedly ready to move on from goalkeeper David de Gea, Football Insider states they are monitoring Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez as a replacement.

    – RAC1 claims Real Madrid's Marco Asensio has already signed a preliminary contract with rivals Barcelona, with his Madrid contract set to expire at the end of this season.

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    There were mixed feelings from the German camp after Monday's dramatic 3-3 draw against England in the UEFA Nations League, with manager Hansi Flick calling it "a good test".

    Germany led 2-0 after a 52nd minute penalty from Ilkay Gundogan and a goal from Kai Havertz in the 67th, but that advantage was wiped out in just over 15 minutes.

    Luke Shaw struck in the 72nd, Mason Mount equalised three minutes later, and a penalty to Harry Kane put the English up 3-2 in the 83rd.

    Ultimately, an 87th-minute leveller from Havertz saw the two sides share the points, and it gave Flick some mixed emotions.

    "The first half was balanced, in the second we deservedly led 2-0 – then we made individual mistakes," he said. "It must not happen that we give up a lead like that. 

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    Midfielder Joshua Kimmich provided a little more insight into exactly what went wrong to allow such a rapid collapse.

    "We had everything under control and deservedly led 2-0 – then we became far too passive," he said. "No longer pushing through consistently, defending far too deep, no longer having the courage to play against the ball… but in terms of body language and engagement, it was an improvement.

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    After scoring two goals, Havertz said to only get a draw from a match like that "must of course worry you" but suggested that it "was another good game to learn from".

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    "It's not unrealistic," he said. "Of course, a lot has to come together. I don't see a team that is miles ahead.

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