Sheffield United: 'Remember, Harry Maguire is an enemy player'

Chris Wilder has described Harry Maguire as an "enemy" player despite acknowledging the Manchester United centre-half deserves a warm reception when he returns to Bramall Lane.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 5:53 pm
England's Harry Maguire celebrates after the final whistle of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at the Fadil Vokrri Stadium, Pristina, against Kosovo: Steven Paston/PA Wire.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against Ole Gunnar Solskjær's side, the Sheffield United manager confirmed Maguire retains strong links with the club where he first turned professional before going on to become the most expensive defender in the world.

But, reminding the purpose of this weekend's exercise is consolidating United's grip on fifth place, Wilder said: "He's an opposition player. I'm sure his name will get a round of applause when it's read out. But he's an opposition player by the way. He's in the enemy camp, with 10 others, for an hour and a half.

"One hundred per cent, Harry will get a good welcome but I don't want it to be the Harry Maguire show. I want it to be the Sheffield United show, with how well we are doing and what we have to get a result against a very talented football team that includes a player who started his career here."

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"We can be very proud of that but he's moved on and we've moved on," Wilder added. "I'm delighted he still follows us and has been to games. But he's in the opposition camp and that classes him as an opponent."

Maguire, aged 26, commanded an £80m fee when he moved to Old Trafford from Leicester City in July. Eight years earlier, he made his United debut when Cardiff visited Bramall Lane; going on to amass over 160 appearances before joining Hull City.

Maguire was a member of the City squad which faced United in the EFL Cup two seasons ago and, reflecting on that match, Wilder admitted: "I tried to leave a bit on him in the tunnel beforehand but I couldn't get to him."

Maguire has developed into one of the game's most respected players since graduating from United's youth system. After being promoted into the first team by Micky Adams, he went on to become a regular starter under Wilder's predecessor Danny Wilson.

Manchester United's Harry Maguire returns to Sheffield United on Sunday: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Despite also hailing the role former academy coach John Pemberton played in his development, Wilder said Maguire is ultimately responsible for his own progression.

"Lots of people jump on the bandwagon," Wilder added. "John Pemberton was the main teacher for Harry and then Danny Wilson, who put him in the team. But the biggest thing is Harry, because he had to do it for himself. I said the same about David Brooks. Coaches play a small part, the biggest thing comes from the player. Now Harry is playing for one of the most iconic teams in the world. Harry is the main person in this whole scenario."

Chris Wilder wants the game to be about Sheffield United's players, not Harry Maguire of Manchester United: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire.
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is preparing his team to face their namesakes from Manchester at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis/Sportimage