Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has today revealed that he regrets his harsh criticism of Manchester United summer signing Harry Maguire, on the back of the English international’s standout debut showing versus Chelsea.
Chelsea put to the sword
United and Chelsea went head-to-head at Old Trafford on Sunday evening, in the clubs’ respective Premier League season opener.
All of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal had already picked up respective victories over the previous 48 hours, results which added a further air of importance to the high-profile Manchester showdown.
And, when all was said and done, it was the hosts who got their campaign off to the ideal start.
Despite Chelsea having actually looked the better side for long periods, particularly in the first-half, the Blues’ defensive shortcomings, coupled with the potency of the hosts on the break, eventually resulted in United running out comprehensive 4-0 victors.
Marcus Rashford opened the scoring from the penalty spot with 18 minutes on the clock, before a quickfire double from Anthony Martial and Rashford just past the hour-mark essentially killed the matchup as a contest.
Daniel James then put the finishing touches on a stellar opening day for the Red Devils with the Manchester giants’ 4th, and his first in a competitive fixture for his new club, ten minutes from time.
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While Rashford’s brace and James’ debut strike were understandably key talking points on the back of the clash, though, no player was more widely-discussed than Harry Maguire.
Powerhouse stopper Maguire was another Red Devils’ debutant on Sunday, with the 26-year-old having gone on to put in a superb, Man of the Match display.
Maguire has since deservedly been revered by the masses for his first showing under the bright lights at Old Trafford, with one outspoken individual having today moved to backtrack on previous criticism of the former Leicester standout.
Paul Merson, speaking on Sky Sports News ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Old Trafford, claimed that he ‘didn’t see any good business’ done at Old Trafford this summer.
The 51-year-old then went on to label Maguire’s £80 million fee as ‘ridiculous’, before questioning whether he would be capable of living up to expectations in Manchester:
“I worry for United. I don’t see any good business. Harry Maguire £80m is ridiculous.”
Paul Merson isn’t convinced by Harry Maguire’s price tag, is he right?
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‘Did not come across the way it should have’
Merson, however, based on his latest comments, clearly feels as though he was a touch harsh on the United stopper.
When questioned on his previous claims during an appearance on Sky Sports’ the Debate earlier today, the former Arsenal star admitted that he was both ‘disrespectful’ and ‘out of order’ with his previous criticism, also confirming that he has made contact with Maguire to clear the air:
‘He has a presence, he’s commanding, he doesn’t mess about. I thought he did very well.’
‘I thought I was very critical of him on Soccer Saturday if I’m being honest. I tried to get hold of him today (Monday) and I will talk to him tomorrow (Tuesday) as he texted me back.’
‘And I thought I was a bit critical if I’m being honest – I thought what I wanted to say did not really come across the way I thought it should have.’
‘I sort of did not really give him the credit he deserves of how good he is. I was brought up in the day and age where it was clear your lines – a Tony Adams or a John Terry, or someone like that.’
‘So I was a bit disrespectful in that way. He has played in World Cup semi-finals, he is an international and I was out of order and I will be the first to admit that.’
‘I thought he was steady. He’s comfortable on the ball, but he will have to defend as time goes on. If Chelsea were more clinical and they had better players up front they would have scored.’