HARRY MAGUIRE flew out for his first overseas trip since his mid-summer brush with the law, insisting that unfortunate incident would not play on his mind.
The Manchester United skipper was initially found guilty of aggravated assault and attempted bribery of a police officer following a nightclub bust-up in August, while he was on holiday in Mykonos.
Harry Maguire has headed abroad for Man Utd’s Champions League game with Istanbul Basaksehir[/caption]
It marks the first time Maguire has left the country since his nightmare holiday in Mykonos[/caption]
He was handed a 21 months suspended prison sentence, although his conviction was later “nullified” by the Greek courts, meaning he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty as he awaits a date for a full retrial.
But it cost Maguire a place in the England team that played Iceland away at the beginning of September.
And after missing the opening Champions League match against Paris St Germain through injury, he had not left the UK since that ill-fated holiday before flying to Istanbul for tonight’s clash with Basaksehir.
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Mykonos is one of the Greek islands closest to Turkey. So Maguire could have been forgiven for letting his thoughts wander back to those unsavoury events
But he insisted: “My mind is fully focused on football. I had a difficult period in the summer but now I am fully focused.
“I come into training each day, work as hard as I can and focus on each game as it comes. I can only say that I’m still fully focused in improving and taking this club forward.”
Maguire was savagely trolled on social media over the incident, but said that had not affected him either.
The £85million defender replied: “Don’t go on it. Don’t read it.”
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Victory tonight would be United’s third Champions League win in a row after their impressive 2-0 win in Paris was followed by a 5-0 demolition job on a highly-rated Leipzig outfit at Old Trafford.
Another three points would virtually secure a place in the last 16.
But United’s Premier League form has been so erratic that another win is far from certain, even though Basaksehir have struggled to find the form that made them Turkish champions last season, and lost 2-0 to both Leipzig and PSG.
There is also the fact that United have lost on their last two visits to Turkey, and Maguire admitted the search for consistency is their biggest concern.
He added: “The reason for the inconsistency is not something we can put our finger on. We don’t look at Champions League and Premier League matches differently.
“We just go into every game trying to win. That’s our motive, but obviously our Premier League results haven’t been what we wanted overall, but we give those the same amount of preparation.
“The main thing is working hard, coming into training each day, trying to improve, because obviously we want to be consistent.
“At the start of last season we were also a bit inconsistent in our performances and the results showed that. And then we found some consistency after the lockdown period and we managed to achieve Champions League football.
“We have to find it within ourselves and within the group again. And it’s got to come from working hard and training hard and be willing to listen and improve.
“But now we are focused on tonight’s game, and hopefully we can put in the sort of performance that we have shown we are capable of so far in this competition.”
Maguire’s own up and down form has been a sort of mirror image of his club’s struggles, although he feels they have turned a corner defensively.
He said: “As the captain I focus more on the team than individually, and we started the season defensively not in the best shape.
“Against Crystal Palace we were too open and Tottenham we let ourselves go, especially when we went down to ten men. But we can’t concede six in any game. It isn’t good enough.
“We have worked hard on that since we came back from the international break. And since then I feel like defensively, we have been really good.
“We haven’t conceded many chances at all. I think Arsenal only had a couple. Recently we’ve conceded two own goals and a soft penalty really.
“Defensively, we feel like we’re on the right track. But we also need to get it right with our attacking shape, and the balance of defending and attacking.”