This series of articles started when there were 13 days until Manchester United’s next game against Brighton at Old Trafford.
13 days to make the necessary adjustments to remedy a poor start. 13 days to implement tactical changes which will improve the team’s performance. 13 days to regain and rally the spirit which was carefully cultivated last season.
13 days to fix United’s season essentially.
Over these 13 days, The Peoples Person team are looking at 13 areas United can look to improve upon before their next Premier League fixture. An article a day until Erik ten Hag’s issues have drifted away.
The penultimate problem on our list is the usability, or lack thereof, of Harry Maguire.
It is fair to say that Maguire is now the fifth-choice centre back at United behind Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw.
However, injuries to Varane and Shaw mean that it only takes a problem for either Lindelof or Martinez and Maguire is back in the team, as was the case against Arsenal last week.
It has to date been noble of Ten Hag to keep some faith in the former skipper and play him when needed, but his form has now reached what is surely the nadir of his career. Following the poor showing against the Gunners there were a pair of horror shows for England. In the first he marked his own man allowing a soft goal for Ukraine and in the other he scored an own goal against Scotland amidst personal ridicule from the gleeful Scottish crowd.
Simply put, his confidence and form is so poor now that Ten Hag simply can’t afford to put him on the pitch unless United are at least four goals up.
It is not being cruel to a player who is capable of much, much more to acknowledge that right now, everything he touches turns to s— and that he could benefit from time away from the spotlight and a chance to regroup.
Ten Hag confirmed at today’s press conference that Martinez and Lindelof are fit and should play tomorrow, but the manager needs a much, much better plan than the one he deployed against Arsenal should one or both of them get injured.
The next in line to Maguire and second sub at the Emirates, Jonny Evans, is also on his own admission too rusty.
Should there be a need for changes tomorrow, Ten Hag may be better off pushing Casemiro back to CB and bringing on an extra midfielder.
Another option would be to play Scott McTominay at CB, where he has some limited experience with Scotland.
Even loanee Sergio Reguilon could be an option, as he did play the position seven times for Real Madrid Castilla back in 2016.
Obviously none of these are ideal options but even the wild card of Reguilon might be a psychologically smarter solution than persisting with Maguire at the end of one of the worst weeks of his playing career.
Hopefully it is a decision Ten Hag won’t have to take tomorrow.