Manchester United great Andrew Cole expects Erik ten Hag to act decisively on Harry Maguire’s future at the end of the season, having found a “brilliant” defensive duo in Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez.
Maguire has struggled for regular minutes since Ten Hag took charge last year, only making five starts during an encouraging Premier League campaign for the Red Devils.
The defender – who was named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for games against Italy and Ukraine on Thursday – has been linked with an exit after seeing Varane and Martinez establish themselves as regulars.
Ten Hag has taken several big decisions since arriving at Old Trafford – not least to allow Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure – and Cole expects him to be similarly firm with Maguire.
Asked about Maguire’s future, Cole told Stats Perform: “That’s ultimately down to the manager. I think Manchester United for many years have really struggled to find defensive partnerships.
“If you look at the money they’ve spent on centre-halves… Maguire, [Victor] Lindelof, [Eric] Bailly, obviously Varane and Martinez now.
“That’s five, and if you look at the money they’ve spent, it’s easily over £200million on centre-halves. I think now they’ve finally got a partnership which looks right.
“For Maguire, it has been difficult. He struggled at the backend of last season, went to the World Cup and did well, came back and struggled at Manchester United.
“The manager has made a decision to go with these two, Varane and Martinez, who have been absolutely brilliant.”
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On Ten Hag’s style of management, Cole added: “With the way football is now, it’s about managing people.
“You’re managing and massaging egos, that’s what football is about.
“It’s not like you can treat every individual the same. They’re not all the same, some react to things better than others.
“From the outside looking in, it looks like he [Ten Hag] is very disciplined. The players respect him, he respects the players and he is getting the best out of them, that’s what you want.”
United face Real Betis in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday, before a home Premier League match against Fulham on Sunday.
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