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Man Utd must come back preventing: Maguire

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire reckons his squad will have to stick together as they fight to stop a disappointing season spiralling into a tailspin following the Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid.

Long since out of the Premier League title race and domestic cup competitions, the Red Devils’ last hope of ending their five-year trophy drought came to a galling end on Tuesday night.

Three weeks on from escaping Spain with a scarcely-deserved 1-1 draw in the first leg of this Champions League last-16 tie, United stuttered on home turf as Renan Lodi’s first-half header sealed Atleti a 1-0 win.

David De Gea bemoaned “another bad year” for a club that are now only fighting for a top-four finish – an uphill battle given Arsenal in the final spot have games in hand on floundering United.

The Gunners could be seven points clear of Ralf Rangnick’s side by the time they play again next month and skipper Maguire says they have to keep battling together.

“Of course it’s going to be a disappointing couple of weeks now,” he said as Atleti fans continued to sing long after the final whistle at Old Trafford.

“The lads need to go, have a rest but make sure that we come back fighting for the end of the season.

“We’ve got nine important Premier League games that we need to try to win every game that we play in, stick together.

“My job as captain obviously has a big role in that as well and making sure that we stick together and we finish the season strong – because we owe it to the fans.”

United do not return to action until hosting Leicester on April 2 and the intervening period is sure to be one of uncomfortable criticism and introspection for those in the dressing room.

Maguire was sarcastically cheered by home fans when replaced towards the end of Tuesday’s loss to Atletico, whose experience and nous was clear as they simultaneously wound down the clock while winding their opponents up.

“I think the style in Europe, it’s not for me to really comment on,” the defender told beIN Sports.

“But, yeah, I think every time you touch someone, it’s a foul.

“I think – as a team – we’ve maybe got learn from it, got to grow from it and don’t lose our discipline.

Rangnick expressed his frustration with referee Slavko Vincic’s officiating after the match as did skipper Maguire, who highlighted a potential foul on Elanga before Atleti scored what proved to be the winner.

Meanwhile, United are reviewing CCTV footage after objects were thrown at Atletico head coach Diego Simeone as he ran down the tunnel at fulltime.

Anyone found to have thrown items faces a three-year ban under ground regulations.

UEFA’s control, ethics and disciplinary body is waiting on the referee and delegate’s report before deciding whether to sanction United.

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