England manager Gareth Southgate has come to the defence of Harry Maguire, who was named in the Three Lions’ latest squad ahead of the final set of international fixtures this season.
The 29-year-old has experienced a challenging season, which has included public ridicule as he’s left to pick up the pieces in what could be the biggest summer of his career.
Despite being named in the EURO 2020 team of the tournament less than 12 months ago, Maguire is now at serious risk of losing his place at Manchester United and there are also question marks over his captaincy status.
Southgate has now delivered a strong defence of the former Leicester man, insisting he’s still one of the best centre-backs he has at his disposal, downplaying any suggestions his performances have dropped in quality.
“There’s obviously a big change around at Manchester United and that’s going to affect everything. For me, he’s still their best centre-back – I’m sure the new manager will watch the games back and have his own view,” Southgate is quoted as saying by the Mirror.
“For us, with all our data across the season, he’s been the same. Although the perception is that he is at a certain level, he’s still among our top two or three. The fact is that Harry and John have been our best pairing.
I think it was right to make the point. I didn’t understand how a player – who hadn’t even kicked a ball in the game and who has been one of England’s best players for over four years – it was hard to quantify what he had done when there are boos when his name is read out.
“I didn’t understand that. I spoke to Harry briefly after the game but he kind of got on with it.”
There’s a large section of United’s support, domestically, who refuse to support their national team because of the way United players have been treated. Whatever your opinion on Maguire is, he has not put a foot wrong for his country and is one of the main reasons they reached the EURO 2020 final last summer.
Unfortunately, fans are fickle and achievements are quickly forgotten. Undeniably, it’s been a tough season for Maguire but he’ll be hoping to resurrect his career next season, with Erik ten Hag set to oversee the latest rebuild.