Sheffield United: His master’s voice is music to Harry’s ears

Harry Maguire scores the winning goal during Sheffield United's League One victory over Notts County four days ago   � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Harry Maguire scores the winning goal during Sheffield United's League One victory over Notts County four days ago � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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After spending seven long weeks chewing the fat with journalists and fielding questions about mentors, the opportunity to finally orchestrate some football must have been a blessed relief for David Weir.

Tonight, four days after watching his team put Notts County to the sword in the league, the Sheffield United manager will attempt to mastermind another victory when Burton Albion visit Bramall Lane in the Capital One Cup.

Harry Maguire, United’s promising young defender, is likely to emerge as a pivotal figure in the South Yorkshire club’s squad this term given Weir’s determination that the flowing moves which characterised last week’s 2-1 triumph over Chris Kiwomya’s side must be built from the back.

An old school English centre-half, Maguire is nevertheless keen to pick the brains of this street-wise celt.

“He (Weir) has played in my position at the highest level,” Maguire told The Star. “He was world class.

“So for Collo (Neill Collins) and myself, it’s brilliant to be able to draw on that knowledge and experience because he understands the demands of our job inside out.

“He probably knows it better than anyone.

“The gaffer is a top coach and he’s got some brilliant guys around him too.

“They’re always giving us little tips about what to do, especially on the passing side of things, so that is only going to help us all improve.”

This evening’s first round tie will see United attempt to avenge their defeat by Albion at the same stage of last season’s competition.

Weir, previously of Everton, Glasgow Rangers and Scotland, was still tutoring the under-21’s at Goodison Park when Cleveland Taylor scored the decisive goal during a tense penalty shoot-out 12 months ago.

Maguire, though, is more concerned with focusing on the future rather than leafing through history books.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game against Burton,” he continued. “We can go into it high on confidence.

“And we want to win it because that’s the best way of making sure we go into the next one, at Brentford on Saturday, in exactly the same frame of mind.

“We want to build that momentum and then keep it going.”

Having studied the videos of Friday’s meeting with County, Albion manager Gary Rowett knows United will pose a markedly different test to the one his charges faced last year.

“We’re trying to pass the ball around and be a lot more patient,” Maguire acknowledged.

“We want to want to wait for the right moment to play that killer pass.

“The gaffer and his team understand that people are going to make mistakes and they accept that.

“But what they want us to do is, when that happens, to lift our heads straight back up and go again.”

Weir’s nice guy persona, though, masks a ruthless, determined streak.

“He’s got his own style and he knows what he wants to do,” Maguire added. “He’s been drilling that into us ever since he came in.

“He’s got a really good team behind him, guys who have got a lot of knowledge and expertise as well, which makes them very clear in their thinking.

“They know what they want to see us do and we’re working really hard.”

Rowett insisted Albion’s squad “is still as strong” as the one which reached last term’s League Two play-off semi-finals following Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Cheltenham Town.

New signing Rory Delap, previously of Derby County, Southampton and Stoke City, impressed at Whaddon Road while the arrival of Adam McGurk has since bolstered the attacking options at their disposal.

United were also showered with praise following their first outing of the new campaign.

But while Maguire expressed his satisfaction at the result - “We wanted three points and it was important to get off to a winning start” - he insisted several aspects of the performance which delivered fell short of the standards desired.

“I thought we made it hard for ourselves by conceding a sloppy goal,” Maguire, who later scored the winner, said. “And we want to be much more clinical.”