Erik ten Hag has ensured Manchester United don’t have Chelsea and Liverpool FC problem this summer

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Erik ten Hag, Manager of Manchester United, looks on prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at London Stadium on May 07, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The removal of Harry Maguire as Manchester United captain had an air of inevitability about it but that should not deter from the decisiveness shown by Erik ten Hag.

Maguire confirmed he would no longer wear the armband in an emotional statement on Sunday evening, following talks with the manager in which he was informed of the decision. “He outlined his reasons to me and whilst I’m personally extremely disappointed, I will continue to give my all every time I wear the shirt,” the defender wrote on his social media channels.

United are without a permanent leader and news of Maguire’s successor isn’t likely to come until the club jet off to the United States for their pre-season tour. The plane will be ready to take off from Edinburgh after Wednesday’s meeting with Lyon but the only captain on board will be in the cockpit.

It’s not ideal to have a vacant armband less than a month before the start of the season, but Ten Hag has been prepared to move quickly and has Maguire’s replacement in mind.

As he did for the bulk of last season, vice-captain Bruno Fernandes is the clear favorite to retain the position on a permanent basis. Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez both have compelling arguments, and Raphael Varane, who led the Reds out in Oslo last week, acknowledged that it was an honor to do so.

Ten Hag will be as decisive in picking his new captain as he was deposing the old one, and the Dutchman’s ruthless instincts will keep United from joining Liverpool and Chelsea in limbo.

In the midst of a major rebuild, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta decided to call time on his 11-year stay at Stamford bridge, signing a one-year deal with Atletico Madrid earlier this month. The 33-year-old leaves a massive gap in experience in West London and hands new manager Mauricio Pochettino an instant issue in picking his new leader.


Jordan Henderson remains at Liverpool for the time being, but in agreeing a near-£700,000-per-week deal to join Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq has made clear his intention to move on from Merseyside. His departure will leave Jurgen Klopp with a similar issue of appointing a new captain.

Chelsea have been aware of Azpilicueta’s likely departure for some time but did not have Pochettino in charge until June. The Argentinian is still getting to know his bloated squad and trying to offload dead weight but has now been tasked with singling out a leader.

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