Harry Maguire has discussed Manchester United’s recent improvements and outlined the club’s ambitions to be challenging for titles in the coming seasons.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have struggled to match the leading sides in the division this season and currently sit fifth in the Premier League table, three points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea in the race to secure Champions League qualification.
After an indifferent start to the campaign, Manchester United had shown signs of improvement prior to the suspension of football amid the coronavirus crisis, however, their unbeaten run stretching to 11 games in all competitions before the season was halted by the global pandemic.
Maguire – who arrived in an £80m deal from Leicester last summer before being appointed club captain following the January departure of Ashley Young – believes his side have made noticeable improvements during the course of the campaign and insists there has been positive signs as the club bid to challenge for honours.
“I think you can see from the start of the season we look a lot more like a team, we can probably see where we want to go, where we want to head,” Maguire told Sky Sports.
“I knew when I first came to Manchester United that Ole said to me loads and loads it’s a building process but we’ll be where we want to be. I can see where we’re heading and the style he wants to implement on the team.
Harry Maguire: "As soon as I knew Manchester United were interested I was jumping at the bit to get there"pic.twitter.com/zefiF46QE1
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“Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of aspects we need to improve to get to the top of where we want to be. We don’t want to be challenging for this Champions League spot, we want to be challenging for titles.
“We know there’s still a lot of improvement to get there, but we’re on the right track and I’m sure eventually we will get there.”
Maguire believes defensive improvements have been key to United’s recent run of improved results, the Red Devils having kept nine clean sheets during their 11-game unbeaten run.
The England international admits his side have improved their defending from set-pieces in particular, and believes a settled back four has contributed to their success as the defence continue to learn each other’s strengths.
“One thing we’ve shored up on is defending set plays. If you look at our record before the run of clean sheets, defending set plays we were up there with one of the worst in the league. If you can’t defend set plays and you’re not scoring at the other end through them you’re not going to stand a chance of reaching where you want to go, it’s such a big part of the game now.
“We’ve gelled together, it’s a new back four, Luke [Shaw] has been playing really, really well of late. We’ve got Aaron [Wan-Bissaka], me and Vic (Victor Lindelof). Eric [Bailly] is coming back and is pushing for a place, which makes everyone up their games, because when he’s come in he’s done really well.
“We’ve got a settled back four and we’re just learning each other’s games really well.”