England manager Gareth Southgate has hit out at supporters for jeering Harry Maguire in the friendly against Ivory Coast on Tuesday.
A section of Three Lions fans booed the centre-back as they ran out 2-0 winners in the clash at Wembley.
The defender has come under fire recently for his performances for Manchester United, and Southgate was disappointed to hear the reception he got for the national team.
What has been said?
“I thought the reception was a joke, an absolute joke,” Southgate told reporters.
“The way he has performed for us has been absolutely phenomenal. I don’t get it. We’re either all in this together or we’re not.
“He’s in an England shirt and not only should you support a player in an England shirt regardless, but when you’ve played at the level he has for us and put the performances in he has, it should be total commitment behind him. I don’t get it at all.
“His performance was pretty faultless really. He stepped out from the back really well for his first goal, was involved in the second one too. So, yeah. The team are totally united. We recognise everyone has difficult moments but he’s a top player and he will come through it.
“They are real England fans and some are influenced by whatever – social media or players that played previously who are influencing opinion. The club situation is obviously very difficult but he’s in an England shirt.
“I remember decades ago a few players being booed in an England shirt and it’s never been acceptable to me. Fans should always get behind their team.”
Southgate worried about effect on other players
Southgate admitted that he fears that other players could be affected by the abuse Maguire has received.
The England coach feels that the criticism and scrutiny Maguire receives could damage morale among the squad, citing Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling as examples.
He said at a press conference: “Don’t think for one minute the other players won’t be looking at that thinking: ‘that could be me one day’.
“That’s been one of the problems with playing for England. Players have thought: ‘Hmmm, do I want to go because when it turns a little bit difficult than the crowd are going to turn on me’.
“That happened with John Barnes here, that happened with Ashley Cole a couple of times, it happened with Raheem, now Harry. They’re all outstanding players so how that is going to benefit anybody I really don’t understand.
“We’re united as a team. We need a Harry Maguire playing well if we’re going to have a chance of doing well [in the winter] because we’re not going to win a World Cup with a load of players that have got three or four caps.
“That’s not happened in the history of the game so we need our experienced players playing well, particularly in those positions of the field.
“He’s top quality. In my opinion, he’s the best centre-back at his club as well. Where this is all starting or being fed, I’m not sure but it’s ludicrous.
“It’s almost like every time he steps on a football pitch every action is analysed to death. I can’t remember a player having that sort of spotlight on them at any point.”