‘Give Maguire away, and United will have a good season’

Kishen Alex Raj is not a fan of Jacob Harry Maguire.

Yes, you read that right, the former Manchester United captain, whom most people know as Harry Maguire, has a first name which the defender never used during his career.

Just as Maguire ‘discarded’ his first name, Kishen believes Manchester United can benefit from discarding the England international.

“I was sad his proposed move to West Ham broke down earlier this week. He is a liability, and I would not mind if United gave him away or even paid a club to take him off the books,” joked the stand-up comedian.

“We have re-signed Jonny Evans (who played for United from 2008-2015), and although he is 35 years old, he is a much better player than the ‘Fridge’ (Maguire).

“Evans will organise the defence better. Although five years older than Maguire, he knows how to cover the spaces without wasting energy.”

Kishen is also pleased with United’s new goalkeeper Andre Onana, whom he believes will bring a new dimension to the team.

The former Inter Milan stopper replaces David De Gea, whose contract ended in June.

“I loved De Gea and was disgusted at how the management treated him. They agreed to a new contract with a lower salary, then cut him loose. Such a disgraceful way to treat a club legend,” said the senior public relations and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) manager for Pavilion.

“However, Onana is a good buy, as he showed after leading Inter to the Champions League final last year. Unfortunately, they lost to Manchester City, but I expect big things from him this year.”

Speaking of City, Kishen fears the ‘noisy neighbour’ and Arsenal will occupy the top two spots in the English Premier League, with United finishing third, but much closer than last season.

City won the title with 89 points last season, five ahead of Arsenal. United finished on 75 points.

“United will be in the top three. City and Arsenal have better squads and a slight edge. It does not mean I am giving up hope. I am just being realistic,” said the former sports journalist.

“I believe United will win one of the domestic cups – League or FA – and will go far in the Champions League, perhaps the semifinals, or further.

“The manager (Erik ten Hag) spent big (Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund are the other new players) to give us good depth, but I have my doubts about Mount, as he is not a United-type of player.”

Nonetheless, Kishen believes United has some good youth players, and they should promote them to the first team – the way the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson used to do.

“We should start building the squad internally and then look for big buys next year,” said Kishen.

Asked which other team could qualify for the Champions League – this year, the EPL could get a fifth spot in Europe’s top club competition that expands to 36 from 32 teams – the father of one said it will be a close fight among four clubs.

“Chelsea, Newcastle, and Aston Villa have good squads and great managers. They should be challenging for the top four,” said Kishen.

“I have a sneaky feeling Villa will surprise many people this season. As for Liverpool, we have to see what they can bring to the table.”

At the other end of the table, Kishen thinks Luton, Everton, Sheffield United, and Fulham will battle to avoid relegation.

“It is still too early to say for sure, but those are the likely picks,” he said.

The EPL resumes tomorrow morning with Nottingham Forest taking on Sheffield United.

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)

Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United (2.45am)
Liverpool vs Bournemouth (10pm)
Wolves vs Brighton (10pm)
Fulham vs Brentford (10pm)

Tottenham vs Manchester United (12.30am)
Manchester City vs Newcastle (3am)
Aston Villa vs Everton (9pm)
West Ham vs Chelsea (11.30pm)

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal (3am)

Luton vs Burnley postponed