A committed performance was the bare minimum demanded by United supporters on Saturday afternoon following humiliating defeats by Manchester City and Newcastle and one player clearly received the memo.
Harry Maguire went down just 39 seconds into the game following a nasty collision and a blow to the head, but he passed the concussion protocols after a check by club doctor Gary O&aposDriscoll and played on.
Maguire looked dazed after the collision and when he went down again in the second half, it was thought to be related, although it was later confirmed by Erik ten Hag the stoppage was due to a hand injury.
“He was playing a massive, massive game,” said Ten Hag. “A very good performance. He showed leadership in and out of possession, he was very good. So I&aposm very pleased with that performance from Harry.”
Bruno Fernandes added: “Everyone has been important, I don&apost want to focus too much on one player, but everyone has been too critical of Harry [Maguire] and he is doing very well. I hope he can stay at this level.”
Maguire won the most aerial duels of anyone on the pitch against Fulham and he also made the most clearances. His performance throughout the afternoon was excellent and it was worthy of the man of the match award.
Fernandes received the award instead and that was inevitable considering he scored the late winner, but it was no surprise to see the midfielder pick out Maguire for praise in his post-match interview.
The centre-back played through the pain barrier against Fulham to have arguably his best game of the season yet. He showed the type of commitment fans demand and he played a crucial part in a must-win fixture.
Other players would have been substituted but Maguire wanted to play on. His dedication didn&apost go unnoticed and it was another positive showing from a player who has quietly had a renaissance over the last few weeks.
Maguire made his sixth consecutive appearance in the starting team against Fulham and he was the hero when scoring the winning goal against Copenhagen in the Champions League before successive defeats.
October was kind to Maguire and there will be no complaints when he starts for England in the November international break because his club performances merit selection, which hasn&apost always been the case.
Maguire was stripped of the captain&aposs armband in the summer and considered the fourth choice in his position by the start of the season. West Ham wanted to sign him and nobody thought he&aposd have a revival.
The player promised to get his head down, work hard and perform when the opportunity arose. He&aposs now reaping the rewards of maintaining his professionalism and he deserves credit for not throwing his toys out of the pram.
There have been doubts over Maguire&aposs ability to represent the club but never about his professionalism. Those who work closely with him describe him as the ultimate pro and that&aposs worth more than some might think.
Gareth Southgate regularly lauds Maguire&aposs character when speaking to the media and his mental strength in the face of adversity – he&aposs gone through the doldrums in front of millions and stayed resilient – has been remarkable.
It&aposs fair to say Maguire has not helped himself over the years, making his fair share of tone-deaf comments along the way, but there haven&apost been any new soundbites this season and he&aposs performing where it matters.