Troy Deeney has claimed Harry Maguire’s agent ranted at him over the phone complaining about his criticism of the Manchester United star on talkSport – telling the Watford legend he ‘wouldn’t say it to his face’.
Deeney was still with Watford in 2020 when he singled out Maguire after Paul Pogba emerged as the scapegoat for United’s difficult season under then-boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – stressing that the club captain deserved to take more stick.
The forward – now with Birmingham – had been working as a pundit for the radio station before his words struck a nerve with Maguire’s representative Kenneth Shepherd, who called him after the player had arrived at training.
Troy Deeney has revealed how Harry Maguire’s agent ranted at him over the phone after criticizing the Man United star on talkSport
Kenneth Shepherd (L) claimed he ‘wouldn’t say it to Harry’s face’ after Deeney questioned why Maguire wasn’t getting more stick
‘I was at Watford when his agent called me,’ he told Ben Foster’s Fozcast podcasts. I was speaking [on talkSport] about the leadership, about Harry Maguire, about David De Gea – about all the senior guys, why it is always Paul Pogba because it was always him getting beaten early doors. That’s all I said.
‘I get to training and my phone is ringing from a number I don’t know. The same number called two or three times so I thought, “there must be a problem here”.
‘I picked it up. It’s Harry Maguire’s agent, “You can’t do this, you can’t do that. You wouldn’t say it to Harry’s face”. And I was like “hold on, one second, let’s rewind. I have said this, I didn’t say that. I would say it to Harry’s face because I’ve got no problem”.’
Deeney then decided to ring the player himself to get his side of the story – before being surprised to discover that the England international knew nothing of what had happened, leaving the veteran forward seething at Shepherd – who is the son of former Newcastle chairman Freddy.
Deeney said Maguire deserved more blame than Paul Pogba amid United’s poor form in 2020
‘I said, “let me call him now and I’ll come back to you”,’ he added. ‘I called him and he has no clue what’s going on.
‘I phoned the agent back saying, “Listen mate, please don’t phone me giving it the big’un because I’m not that guy and you’re going to have a problem you don’t want”.
‘It made me realize that my voice was powerful and penetrating. I just said “what about the leadership” and it made this super agent come out of his little nest and say ‘hold up Troy, we’re taking a drumming here’.
‘To be fair to Harry, he said to me “I don’t know what all that’s about”. I said, “It’s not a problem, but the way he phoned and the aggression he was having”. A younger me would have taken that much more personally. This is what I said – I’ll tell you to your face, I’ve got no problem.’
Maguire has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford after years of struggling to find his best form at United
Maguire started 34 games in the 2020-21 season but cracks in his game began to show and he has now found himself out of the starting line-up under current boss Erik ten Hag.
After United were beaten 1-0 by Arsenal in November 2020, Deeney said Maguire should be held partly accountable for the club’s struggles in a chat with journalist Neil Custis – saying it was unfair that Pogba was given much of the blame.
‘I can understand why people talk about Pogba, but why is no one going at Harry Maguire? Why hasn’t he faced much criticism? Is he not the captain? Is he not the guy who is meant to lead the ship? Other than the England stuff, where’s the criticism of him over the last two or three weeks?
Maguire out of favor under Erik ten Hag, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane favored
‘You talk about the time under Ferguson, that’s gone, the people need to just put that away, it’s like talking about Arsenal under Wenger, it’s finished, you’ve had three or four managers since then.
‘I understand Pogba needs to be better, but I don’t see the level of criticism raised at Harry Maguire. You’re the captain of this ship, why are you not leading it? Why are you not visibly calling people out in front of everybody?’
Despite having an impressive season at Euro 2020 the following summer, Maguire’s struggles to rediscover his club form continued, with his critics becoming ever more vocal as he made high profile makes under Solskjaer before his sacking in November 2021 – and his successor Ralf Rangnick.
This season he has been cast aside by new boss Ten Hag, starting just four games this campaign and not picked in the starting line-up during a Premier League match since a 3-0 win over Bournemouth on January 3.
Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane – both brought in over the last two seasons – have been preferred over Maguire in central defense.