Dropped by Man United, Maguire becomes an issue for England

Sep 5, 2022, 2:18 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2022, 9:09 am

Manchester United's Harry Maguire applauds supporters as he warms up on the bench side during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford stadium, in Manchester, England, Monday, Aug 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

Harry Maguire has been dropped by Manchester United despite being its club captain and the most expensive defender in soccer history.

The big question now: How will that affect his place in England’s team ahead of the World Cup?

England coach Gareth Southgate has previously said he finds it difficult to select players in his squad if they aren’t featuring for their clubs. And Maguire only has to look at some of his teammates at United — Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Luke Shaw — to see Southgate often has been true to his word.

Maguire could prove to be a different case.

First, Maguire might now be behind Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane in the pecking order of center backs at United but he will still get minutes — perhaps most weeks in the lead-up to the World Cup — because of the team’s involvement in the Europa League, when manager Erik ten Hag will likely rotate. That gives Maguire at least six matches, injury-permitting, if not more should Martinez and Varane have any fitness issues themselves.

Then there’s Southgate’s options at center back, which aren’t plentiful.

There’s John Stones, who isn’t exactly a guaranteed starter at Manchester City given the Premier League champions now have five central defenders in their squad. Conor Coady recently left Wolverhampton, where he had lost his place, to join struggling Everton, and Tyrone Mings was dropped by Aston Villa at the start of the season only to recently regain his place because of injuries.

Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi and AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori have been in and out of England’s squads over the past year but neither is currently a player Southgate can rely on.

Maguire, then, might be safe for the time being, especially since he’s been a regular under Southgate during the coach’s England tenure. After all, it was only 14 months ago that Maguire was selected in the team of the tournament for the European Championship by UEFA’s technical observers.

His stock at United has plummeted since then, though, with his last start seeing him look beleaguered in the team’s 4-0 loss at Brentford that sparked a crisis at England’s biggest club. Ten Hag has partnered Varane and Martinez in every game since and United won four in a row, conceding only one goal.

Maguire, who left Leicester for United for 80 million pounds (then $97 million) — a world-record fee for defender — in 2019, was on the bench again in the 3-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday and came on in the 80th minute as a replacement for Martinez. Almost immediately, Maguire collected a yellow card for a clumsy foul, and looked shaky throughout his brief time on the field.

Central defense is suddenly a huge concern for Southgate 10 weeks ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

Still, expect Maguire’s name to be there when the next England squad is named for Nations League matches against Italy and Germany at the end of the month.

___

BRAITHWAITE RESURGES

Leaving Barcelona might have been just what Martin Braithwaite needed to boost his chances of securing a spot in Denmark’s World Cup squad.

The forward signed with Espanyol after being among the players Barcelona let go to make more salary cap room for its new signings.

He debuted with his new club Sunday and scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league. It was Espanyol’s first victory of the season, and Braithwaite’s first goal in more than a year — since a league game in August 2021.

The 31-year-old forward had appeared in only four matches with the Catalan club since then, the last in March.

___

JEERS FOR ALVES

After ending his second spell at Barcelona in the offseason, Dani Alves was asked by Brazil coach Tite to join a team where he could play plenty of minutes ahead of the World Cup.

Well, he’s getting game-time at Pumas in Mexico — but things aren’t exactly going to plan.

The team is next to last in the standings after 12 games and the 39-year-old Alves recently has been jeered by fans for his performance on the field. Alves has yet to win any of the eight games he has played with Pumas, which is trying to win their first league title in 11 years.

“The jeers don´t seem normal or appropriate, we know where they are coming from,” said Pumas coach Andres Lillini, who has used Alves in three different positions in midfield as well as at right back.

Alves was a regular for Brazil in World Cup qualifying and also won the gold medal at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Cross country coaches on leave after sex assault allegations

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A northeastern Indiana university placed its women’s cross country head coach and an assistant on leave Thursday after two former runners claimed in a federal lawsuit they were doped and sexually assaulted. Huntington University, a private, Christian liberal arts university, said it placed head coach Lauren Johnson and assistant coach Curtis […]
16 hours ago
Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92's Victor Wembanyama signs autographs after the team's exhibitio...
Associated Press

Wembanyama’s 2-game Las Vegas exhibition stay ends with win

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Victor Wembanyama blocked a shot Thursday afternoon, ran to the other end of the court, went airborne from just inside the foul line, corralled an alley-oop pass with one hand and slammed home a dunk. The entire sequence lasted eight seconds. It may have been the signature moment — and there […]
16 hours ago
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Luis Castillo tips his cap as he walks off the field after pitchi...
Associated Press

Manoah, Blue Jays vs Castillo, Mariners in playoff opener

TORONTO (AP) — There’s a whole lot riding on Alek Manoah’s first career playoff start, but the Toronto Blue Jays All-Star right-hander isn’t the least bit fazed about facing the Seattle Mariners in Friday’s wild-card opener. “My high school coach used to say pressure is something you put in your tires,” Manoah joked Thursday. “This […]
16 hours ago
Brazil's national soccer coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, also known as Tite, poses for a portrait afte...
Associated Press

AP interview: Brazil coach Tite will stick to attack at WCup

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil coach Tite has so many attacking options for the World Cup that he can hardly fit half of them into his team. He promises to use as many of his forwards as he can in Qatar, though, no matter the opponent. “There will be opportunities for all (Brazil’s forwards),” […]
16 hours ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge follows through on a solo home run, his 62nd of the season, as Texas ...
Associated Press

Boosted by Judge, Yankees’ YES Network viewers increase 27%

NEW YORK (AP) — Boosted by Aaron Judge’s pursuit of Roger Maris’ American League home run record, Yankees games on the team’s YES Network averaged 368,000 viewers in the New York market this year, up 27% from 2021 and the most in 11 seasons. The network said Thursday the figure was for 126 telecasts. YES’s […]
16 hours ago
FILE - In this Aug. 11, 1936, file photo, America's Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the present...
Associated Press

Jesse Owens friend Luz Long’s silver medal up for auction

One of the most consequential Olympic medals ever awarded is on the auction block — the silver medal captured in 1936 by Germany’s Luz Long, the long jumper who walked arm in arm through the stadium with Jesse Owens to celebrate their triumphs while Adolf Hitler watched from the stands. Long’s family has decided to […]
16 hours ago
Dropped by Man United, Maguire becomes an issue for England