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Jamie Carragher has questioned Manchester United captain Harry Maguire for a lack of bravery. The criticism comes after the Red Devils conceded a stoppage time equaliser to Everton in a blow to their Premier League title hopes.
United twice led at Old Trafford, but were forced to settle for only a point when Dominic Calvert-Lewin slotted past David de Gea for his 13th goal of the season.
Maguire was partly at fault for the crucial goal, as he played five Everton players onside when the set-piece was taken.
This is not the first time that Maguire has been accused of defensive frailties, with Roy Keane blasting the Englishman for his performance against Spurs last season.
The 28-year-old’s error against Everton proved costly, with Manchester City capitalising on United dropping points to go five points clear at the top of the Premier League.
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And Carragher blasted the United skipper’s decision-making for the free-kick.
“Harry Maguire is the leader at the back, he’s the captain. He’s got to decide where that line is and it’s wrong,” Carragher told Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football show.
“I almost think Harry Maguire has taken too much responsibility – and that’s what I used to at times. I’d think I’d want to head the ball, ‘I’m that nervous I want to head this.’
“And you drop off a little bit and then go to attack it. I think that’s the mistake he’s made. He hasn’t been brave enough but I can put myself in the situation.”
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But Carragher also drew on his experience under Rafa Benitez at Liverpool to express sympathy for Maguire.
“Rafa Benitez used to be on at me, about free-kicks late in the game, constantly,” he said.
“I didn’t have the nerve to hold the line. I’d be that nervous about contending a goal, I’d think ‘I need to head this away’.
“When you’re Harry Maguire in that position, and it’s the position I’d be in. When you’re at the back of the line – or certainly in the middle – and there’s bodies everywhere, some players are offside, some are making runs.
“A lot of the time you can’t see the ball. You’re jumping and jostling – and what I would do, which was a mistake all the time, was I’d want to drop two yards so I could almost see the ball.”
Carragher’s fellow Monday Night Football pundit, former Wales manager Chris Coleman, agreed with the Liverpool legend’s assessment.
“He’s done it I think, because he thinks ‘I’m going to be the one to head this away’. It’s the last action of the game and we know the ball’s coming in,” Coleman said.
“If he’s guilty of anything, he’s guilty of taking too much responsibility. He’s the leader there and he’s got to keep that line high. Once he’s there he has to stay in sync with everyone else.”
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