Harry Maguire told his prospects under Erik ten Hag have changed after being dropped
Wes Brown believes Manchester United have finally proved that the issues at the club run far deeper than captain Harry Maguire.
The England international has become a lightning rod for criticism this season, with his performance levels dropping dramatically lower than in years previous. Such has been his downturn in form, there have been calls for him not only to lose the armband, but to come out of the starting lineup altogether.
In recent weeks, Maguire has been out of the side, firstly in the aftermath of the bomb threat on his house, before missing the games with Chelsea and Brentford with a knee injury. He was back to full fitness for the trip to Brighton, but was left on the bench as the rampant Seagulls ran out into a four-goal lead at the Amex.
A desperate Ralf Rangnick then turned to Maguire in a bid to stem the flow of goals and an admission that it was a case of damage limitation. And United did manage to avoid any further embarrassment, although the damaging defeat means it is now guaranteed they will end their lowest ever Premier League points tally.
The 29-year-old has staunchly defended his own performances, despite admitting he has had some ‘bad games’. He added: "But I wouldn't be playing every game for Manchester United in the starting eleven if I'd been playing bad every game or not playing well enough.
"There's a reason why both managers have put me in the starting 11 every game, for what I bring to the team [and] what I bring to the starting eleven.
"But I do also understand that I'm the captain of this club, I cost a lot of money, and when things aren't going well and we're conceding too many goals I'm going to get criticised."
And Brown, who won the treble for United back in 1999, believes being out of the side has done Maguire a favour, showing that it’s no better without him in the starting XI, conceding eight goals in his absence.
"Harry has put in some bad performances this year. But listen, everybody has,” he told the Sun. "I think the last few games have done him a favour because you can see [without him] nothing has changed. He actually played very well when he came on against Brighton."
Incoming manager Erik ten Hag is set to take stock of the entire United squad before undertaking an ambitious overhaul in his first summer in charge. Brown thinks that Maguire will take the break to refresh and come back ready to prove everybody wrong.
"When you're Man Utd captain you're going to get stick. When the results are what they are, you're going to get stick,” Brown added. "Harry will go away in the summer and have a little break. He'll want to come back and prove everyone wrong with what has been said.
"To me, yes you can have a bad season, but it's how you bounce back. Next season will be massive for Maguire but I'm pretty sure he'll get back to his best."