Erik ten Hag is impressed by how Harry Maguire has developed since the head coach’s arrival at Manchester United, even though the defender has struggled to get into the starting XI on a regular basis.
The club captain has been forced to spend much of the season watching from the bench, making 12 of his 23 United appearances in cup competitions, and will be aiming to add to that figure when Fulham visit Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Maguire completed 90 minutes in the 1-0 win over Real Betis on Thursday and, if selected against Marco Silva’s side, it would be the first time he has started consecutive club matches since the opening two fixtures of the season.
“I am really happy with the progress Harry is making at the moment,” Ten Hag said. “He is more dominant and dictating, taking more initiative on the training pitch and we saw in Seville against Betis where he showed leadership, especially in those aspects of initiative and dictation of the game.”
Another who could be afforded a rare start against Fulham is the forward Facundo Pellistri. He made his full debut on Thursday after two and a half years with the club and has overtaken Anthony Elanga in the pecking order in recent months. With Alejandro Garnacho ruled out through injury, there could be more opportunities for the Uruguayan.
“You have to deserve it,” Ten Hag said of Pellistri getting further opportunities. “You have to gather it by yourself. We will help him. The way of play, the culture, will help him. The coaches are working hard with him. But at the end of the day the players have to grab their chances. They have to deserve their chances by performing every day, on and off the pitch.
“He has the abilities to do it like others coming up from the youth like Garnacho, like Kobbie Mainoo. Pellistri is also one of them. So there are more who can do it but you have to contribute to the team. Manchester United is not a place where we can have the patience to try one for 10 games. No, you have to perform.”