Harry Maguire’s debut saw Manchester United keep a rare home clean sheet (Martin Rickett/PA)
Harry Maguire’s debut saw Manchester United keep a rare home clean sheet (Martin Rickett/PA)

Kevin Palmer

Paul Merson has offered up an apology to Harry Maguire, after he was highly critical of Manchester United’s new £80m signing in his role as a Sky Sports analyst.

Former Arsenal midfielder Merson didn’t hold back as he questioned United’s decision to pay a world-record fee as they signed Maguire from Leicester, as he suggested the defender’s success in England colours was due to his deployment in a back three.

“You have to remember he ripped it up for England in a three and when you play in a three at the back, you do that for one reason only – the defenders are not good enough and you do not trust them,” suggested Merson.

Now he has backtracked on those comments after Maguire’s man-of-the-match debut performance for United against Chelsea on Sunday, as he revealed he has contacted the defender in a bid to apologise for his comments.

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Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson (David Jones/PA Wire)

“I was very critical of him on Soccer Saturday if I’m being honest. I tried to get hold of him today (Monday) and I will talk to him as he texted me back.

“I thought I was a bit critical if I’m being honest. I thought what I wanted to say did not really come across the way I thought it should have.

“I sort of did not really give him the credit he deserves of how good he is. I was brought up in the day and age where it was clear your lines – a Tony Adams or a John Terry, or someone like that.

“So I was a bit disrespectful in that way. He has played in World Cup semi-finals, he is an international and I was out of order and I will be the first to admit that.

“I thought he was steady. He’s comfortable on the ball, but he will have to defend as time goes on. If Chelsea were more clinical and they had better players up front they would have scored.

“He is a lot better than what they have got. You can look back and say they hit the post and had chances and David de Gea made a great save with his feet, but they still kept a clean sheet. Whoever keeps a clean sheet every week the other team always has a chance to score. He did well and he will get better.”

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