ENGLAND manager Gareth Southgate tonight hit out at the criticism which has been levelled at Harry Maguire and branded the treatment the Manchester United centre half has been subjected to “a joke”.
Maguire, who has been stripped of the United captaincy and told he has no future at Old Trafford, came on in the second half of the Friendly International Match against Scotland at Hampden this evening.
The defender was jeered by Tartan Army footsoldiers whenever he touched the ball even though the visitors were leading 2-0 when he took to the field – and he scored an own goal when he turned an Andy Robertson cross into his own net.
However, Southgate was heartened to hear the travelling supporters chanting the 59-times capped player’s name during the 3-1 win and launched an impassioned defence of the 30-year-old following the final whistle.
“From a Scotland fans’ point of view, I get it and have absolutely no complaints about anything they did,” he said.
“But the treatment Harry gets is a consequences of the ridiculous treatment he’s had for a long time now.
“It’s a joke – I’ve never known a player treated the way he is by our own pundits and commentators. I feel very strongly about it.
“He’s been a key part of the most successful England team for decades. He’s been a stalwart, he’s been crucial and the balls he shows, the balls he shows every time he goes out there, are absolutely incredible. He’s a top player and we’re all with him.
“Harry was good after the game. We’ve had a good win, he’s played a good part in it, he’s fronted up to the media as he always does. Everything about him is enormous credit to his character.”
Southgate, who had himself come in for flak in the wake of the 1-1 draw with Ukraine in a Euro 2024 qualifier in Poland on Saturday, was delighted with England’s performance in the match against Scotland.
“We wanted to give a performance that was controlled on the ball so we could quieten the fantastic atmosphere,” he said.
“We had some real threat with our passing in behind and our work without the ball was fantastic. It was an excellent performance with a great result. I just think we played exceptionally well. We were able to nullify the threat Scotland pose.
“Jude Bellingham was excellent. We thought that position might cause Scotland a problem. Their midfield can dictate games if you allow them to, but we didn’t allow them to.”
Southgate added: “The Scottish fans should be really proud of the job Steve Clarke is doing and the progress what team has made.
“I’m sure there will be a reaction to the result here, but we’ve just had that reaction for three days since the Ukraine game and it’s important to understand that.”