Maguire’s United career hit rock bottom at the end of last season as Ten Hag stripped him of the captaincy, having slipped down the Dutchman’s pecking order.
Lisandro Martinez’s arrival formed a formidable partnership with Raphael Varane, ending the £80million man’s status as a regular starter.
But Ten Hag used Victor Lindelof ahead of Maguire. And then he used Luke Shaw ahead of the England international. His future looked anywhere but Old Trafford.
That outcome seemed all the more certain after West Ham came knocking and United sanctioned Maguire’s departure.
The Hammers agreed a £30m deal, setting Ten Hag on the search for a replacement. Jean-Clair Todibo, Edmond Tapsoba and Benjamin Pavard were claimed to top his shortlist.
However, Maguire reportedly rejected United’s offer of a £6m contract pay-off to accept a lower salary at the London Stadium, instead opting to fight for his place.
He started the campaign, again, on the bench until the Red Devils’ relentless injury woes opened a window of opportunity.
Martinez underwent a second foot surgery after returning to action too early at the start of the season. Varane’s injury unreliability continued. And Maguire took his chance. An unexpected but welcome renaissance followed, boosting the United No. 5’s stock once again.
Following a brief spell on the sidelines this winter, Ten Hag handed Maguire his first start since Bayern Munich visited Old Trafford in the Champions League on December 12 against West Ham.
Ahead of kick-off, Ten Hag said: “He played very well in October, November, and December, but then he picked up a small injury.
“It’s our third game in a week, so we didn’t want to change too much but one centre-back in, one out and to give Varane a rest. We made some adjustments.”
Barring a slight miskick that allowed Emerson Palmieri a chance on goal at the start of the second half, the former skipper produced a reliable performance alongside Martinez.
He was almost flawless, in fact, as he showcased once again why Ten Hag’s failure to move him on last summer was a blessing in disguise.
Even if Maguire departs later this year, United will be confident they can demand an even higher fee than £30m to help fund the capture of Varane’s long-term replacement.