Maguire Scores!

by Unfrozen Caveman Law Writer

My five year-old son is in training to be a professional troll. That or he’s Nostradamus.

On Saturday, we were watching Manchester United lose 2-1 to Fulham.

Despite their recent good form, United’s defeat was entirely foreseeable as many of their bad habits reared their ugly heads.

United had trouble scoring goals without Rasmus Højlund, who has been in fantastic form but could miss the next few weeks because of a muscle strain. Maybe he threw out his back after carrying the team over the last two months.

They gave up 17 shots, which is actually an improvement over recent matches.

They fell asleep after equalizing right before second-half stoppage time, giving up the game-winning goal to Alex Iwobi in the 97th minute.

To add injury to insult, another important player got hurt, as Casemiro suffered a blow to the head and had to be taken off — something Erik ten Hag later blamed for the loss.

On the other hand, Bruno Fernandes blamed the officiating and berated the ref after the match, something that inevitably led to the usual deluge of “is Bruno captain material?” stories.

So where does my son come in? Well, throughout the match, even when it was still scoreless, he kept trying to trick me into thinking that United had scored. I would ask him who scored, and, because he only knows the name of one player, he would say “Maguire!” Apparently, he’d heard me and my wife make fun of Harry Maguire on several occasions (“economic Maguire” and it’s possible variants have made their way into our vernacular), and naturally picked up on it.

“Maguire scored!” he would say, even with the score still deadlocked at zeros.

“Sure,” I would respond. “Maybe for the other team.”

Then, in the 89th minute, the impossible happened and Harry Maguire scored. Sure, he wasn’t the target of Fernandes’ cross into the box (that would be our usual Plan B, Scott McTominay). Sure, he was helped by Fulham’s goalkeeper spilling the shot right into Maguire’s path. But he still had to make good contact with it and put it past the keeper — and he produced a better finish than many of our attackers have this season.

Of course, the Maguire giveth and he taketh, too. Slabhead was partially culpable for Fulham’s winner, which was set up by Adama Traore speeding down the right wing on a counterattack. The smart play would have been to take a yellow card by intentionally fouling him, thereby allowing United’s defense to get back and set up. Instead, Maguire had to pull out the challenge because he was already on a card and didn’t want to get sent off and suspended, leaving United’s already depleted defense short-handed for their next match.

“I was on a booking myself, in hindsight, maybe I should have just brought him down, but then you miss next week. It’s easy to say now,” Maguire said after the match. “We can look back and I’m sure we’ll assess it in terms of areas that we can improve on but, ultimately, over the 90 minutes we didn’t do enough to win the game.”

Indeed, that seems to be the theme of this season: United didn’t do enough to win.

Here’s hoping that changes in midweek against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. Otherwise we’re looking at another trophyless season.

Who knows? Maybe Maguire will score in that match, too. I’ll ask my son for his prediction.

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