ON PAPER, Manchester United’s central defensive partnership should be a matter of Ralf Rangnick.
An £80m England international who helped his country reach the big final in the summer and is France’s World Cup winner with four Champions League titles to his name.
But at the moment, Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane are a mystery that Man United’s German interim coach is in dire need of solving.
The return of Varane, 28, back to the starting line-up after picking up a hamstring injury on November 2 was seen as a big plus with Victor Lindelof having been ruled out when he tested positive for Covid.
But his performance alongside Maguire in a lousy result against Newcastle only proves how far United still have to go to reach their historic heights over the past year.
Edinson Cavani saved his defenders with an equalizer – but in reality, the Warblers should have cost Maguire and Varane for multiple fouls in front of their goal to put serious pressure on them. .
They may have taken down Sports Direct’s sign from St James’ Park, but Maguire and Varane look like a contract-buying pair.
All the pre-match talk was about Eddie Howe’s Toon and their poor record at the back – the highest 41 in the league so far and stats no better than his predecessor Steve Bruce.
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Ironically, former Reds captain and centre-back Bruce, 60, could have had a better performance in defence last night for Rangnick’s underperforming Man United.
Both Maguire and Varane are tenses, staggered and confused by every decision, fearful and vulnerable to any opponent, defiant and calamitous on the ball.
Allan Saint-Maximin’s seventh-minute opener was the first in the Rangnick era – and it was a mixed bag.
Two clean sheets against Crystal Palace and Norwich before their 16-day gap are certainly false signs of progress after conceding under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Varane was saved by Sean Longstaff before Saint-Maximin was cut inside by Maguire and fired a shot past David De Gea.
That topic continued as Callum Wilson saved Maguire’s shot from inside his box and doubled Newcastle’s lead through only the offside flag to save the United captain’s blush.
The best part of Maguire’s night was the relief when Wilson was forced off the field before half-time through injury. Varane meanwhile will have nightmares about Saint-Maximin for weeks.
Varane made another mistake after the break when he lost the mark of Saint-Maximin, who should have made it 2-0 only to head in from about two yards out.
This is the Newcastle team with only 18 goals before this match, and only 1 goal in the last 3 matches, conceding 11 goals.
United – with the help of inactive duo Maguire and Varane – made them like world smashers across the park.
Even the likes of Joelinton, Jacob Murphy and Miguel Almiron have found confidence when it comes to shots from long distance in search of a winner, with absolutely no pressure or intimidation in front of him.
Maguire countered his poor performance by complaining to officials and his teammates at every turn, leading to Gary Neville describing his former club at half-time as a “pocket” money”.
That phrase might be lost in translation for The Godfather of German Football Rangnick.
But even he may find his biggest problem lies at the heart of self-defense.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/premier-league/4349494/man-utd-varane-maguire-newcastle/ Man Utd’s central defensive partnership is a dream on paper but will give Rangnick nightmare after Newcastle defeat