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It is exactly one year ago that Harry Maguire was confirmed as ’s new captain.

His first game was a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool that left United 30 points behind their historic rivals. Today they return to Anfield top of the Premier League with their celebrated defender an essential part of the rebuild, overcoming tribulations along the way.

There are similarities with Jordan Henderson, Liverpool’s title-winning skipper. Like his England colleague, Maguire has more gifted team-mates around him, but nobody as motivational or reliable.

Harry Maguire's first match as captain came in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool one year ago

Harry Maguire's first match as captain came in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool one year ago

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Manchester United return to Anfield now sitting three points clear at the top of the table

return to Anfield now sitting three points clear at the top of the table

It’s no coincidence he has played more minutes in the past 12 months than any outfield player in Europe. He is also the first United skipper to face Liverpool as league leaders since Nemanja Vidic in 2013.

‘I’ve learned so much as captain of this club,’ says Maguire, whose career was built in the lower leagues at Sheffield United before an upgrade to Leicester and the 2018 World Cup.

‘It’s a massive honour but I am here to win games and trophies. That’s my character.

‘I played in League One, learning about heading, blocking, tackling and the rest in a really tough environment. It teaches you to be tough. The main thing isn’t about stepping out from the back and knocking long diagonal balls to people — it’s about keeping the ball out of your own net.’

Like all the Premier League big-hitters, United’s team is made up of glittering overseas stars and youngsters educated at the best academies in Europe.

But Maguire has shown there is still room for old school and he is guided by United’s finest traditions.

‘I’ve always followed United, even as a boy, and I’ve looked into the history of the club,’ says the £80million defender, who was handed the armband after only six months at Old Trafford when Ashley Young departed.

‘I went and met all the staff in different departments to get an understanding of how big this place is, what a massive business it is. You see Robbo (United’s former Captain Marvel Bryan Robson) knocking about and he’s told me loads.

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The centre-back has played an integral part to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's rebuild

The centre-back has played an integral part to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's rebuild

‘At the same time I am my own man with my way of being captain. I’m always here

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