Harry Maguire hailed the character shown by his Manchester United team-mates after they sealed Champions League football – and praised Bruno Fernandes for having such an impact since joining in January.
The Manchester United captain led his side to a 2-0 win against his former employers Leicester City on the Premier League final day as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finished third.
A top-four finish had looked unlikely for United at the turn of the year but Maguire and Co’s superb form since January saw them chase Leicester down.
Maguire said United – who had been eighth at Christmas – were deserving of their spot after an inspiring run in the second half of the season.
Speaking after the match, Maguire told Sky Sports: ‘It’s great character from the lads to go out and get what we wanted to do. To finish third should be a minimum at this club.
‘It was the exact game I thought it was going to be. We had one eye on the Chelsea game to see if a draw was going to be good enough.
‘But big players turn up in big moments, and I think we deserved the three points.
‘As a club we expect to be in the Champions League. The last few years have been tough.
‘People probably didn’t expect us to be in the top four at the end of the season.’
Goals from Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard on Sunday ensured they would play in the Champions League next season.
Portuguese star Fernandes was not at his best at the King Power but still managed to contribute by scoring the opener from the spot.
Maguire heaped praise on Fernandes’ influence in his debut Premier League season but also admitted that United fixed the problems they had in defence during the second-half of the campaign.
The United defender said: ‘We were dropping points in silly games. We’ve been better in recent weeks and to come from behind shows the character we’ve got in this group.
‘We just dipped so much in between games. At the start of the season we were conceding goal after goal defending set pieces. Defending set plays is huge as well, as basic as it is.
‘Bringing Bruno in has made a big difference.’
Maguire, who left the Foxes for United 12 months ago after three seasons at the King Power, praised his former side for their excellent season which has seen them reach the Europa League.
Speaking about his King Power return, Maguire added: ‘It’s great to be back (at Leicester), they’ve had a great season.
‘They’ve dropped out at the wrong time, and to finish fifth for this club is a brilliant achievement.’