Footballers lead a life the envy of those of us who still dream of scoring goals for our respective teams well into adulthood.
That profound jealousy means that there is always an element of schadenfreude when something happens to a footballer that makes their lives that little bit less perfect.
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Whatever happened to Harry Maguire in Mykonos in the summer is one such moment, especially given how it played out in the media, and the myriad of reports as to Maguire’s thoughts on the Greek civilisation.
But what has become very clear since is just how badly the whole episode has affected Maguire. What has followed on the pitch has done little to suggest that Maguire is in anything other than a difficult place, mentally. A break is needed, but with Manchester United facing a horrible run of fixtures, and football being the be-all and end-all entity that it is, Maguire is likely to remain in the spotlight, and his continued suffering could turn out to be a difficult watch.
Whether he was in the wrong or not – the Greek police’s story and Maguire’s own take on events are poles apart – is likely to remain a mystery.
What we do know is whatever did unfold is not going away. In several TV interviews Maguire has looked like a broken man, damaged by events on the Greek island. His focus as a footballer has been difficult to retain too.
Maguire has not been helped by some dreadful defending by his club team-mates as United have started the season looking a shadow of the side who surged back up the table to finish third last season, but the skipper himself has been equally at fault as United have looked brittle in the extreme.
Brighton could have scored 10 on the south coast in United’s most unlikely of victories last month, before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men shipped six at home to Tottenham.
In the short gap between seasons, there was a real clamour among fans for United to splash the cash on a central defensive partner for Maguire, but amid the defensive chaos that has ensued at the back for United this season, that desire for defensive reinforcements has gathered speed as Maguire himself has looked as error prone as the rest of his team-mates.
While the poor header and missed clearance from Maguire that lead to Spurs’ opener at Old Trafford was not what you would expect from one of the world’s most expensive defenders, it smacked of a man uncomfortable in his own skin right now.
A week and a half later, Maguire’s frustrations were there for all to see inside 31 minutes for England against Denmark.
His lunge in just the sixth minute on Yussuf Poulsen was completely and utterly unnecessary, and bore all the hallmarks of a man who needed to let something out.
Harry Maguire is shown the red card by match referee Jesus Gil Manzano after getting a second yellow card against Denmark
Image credit: Getty Images
Lucky to perhaps avoid a straight red card for that challenge, Maguire was not done, as he miscontrolled before again lunging, with studs showing, into a tackle that earned him a first red card for his country. It was like he just wanted to get out of there.
And a reprieve from the rigours of life in the spotlight is exactly what he needs. The Twittersphere has had their fun with Maguire, now it is clear this is a human being, who is suffering, mentally.
The only problem is, despite how far we have come with recognising the importance of talking about mental health issues, Maguire, being a handsomely paid footballer, is most likely just going to have to ‘get on with it’.
And with some tough fixtures to come, leading a United side who are at a low ebb themselves, Maguire’s on-field struggles are unlikely to be relenting anytime soon.
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