‘It is a joke’: Southgate hits back at Maguire critics

He questioned the treatment meted out to the defender

By Web Desk
September 13, 2023
Maguire (R) brought Scotland back in the game by scoring an own goal in the 67th minute. - AFP

England manager Gareth Southgate threw his weight behind Harry Maguire after Scotland fans sarcastically mocked the defender, who scored an own goal in a friendly on Tuesday which England won 3-1 at Hampden Park.

Maguire, who was on the bench for England, was subbed in at half-time due to an injury to Marc Guehi and faced ironic cheers from the Scottish fans every time he touched the ball.

The Manchester United defender brought Scotland back in the game by scoring an own goal in the 67th minute.

"There has been ridiculous treatment of him for a long period of time, frankly," Southgate said after the match.

"It’s a joke. I’ve never known a player treated the way he is not by the Scottish fans, but by our own commentators, pundits, whatever, they've created something beyond anything I've ever seen."

The 30-year-old was removed as captain by Manchester United in July and has struggled for minutes at Old Trafford.

Nonetheless, Southgate highlighted his importance for England, with the centre-back having featured in all of their Euro 2024 qualifying matches.

"He's been an absolute stalwart for us in the second most successful England team for decades. He's been an absolute key part of that," Southgate said.

It must be noted that Jude Bellingham was the star of the show for England against Scotland as he scored a goal and also provided an assist for captain Harry Kane.

"I wasn't happy with how I played against Ukraine, it wasn't anywhere near my best and the motivation is always to get back to your best. I got somewhere close tonight," Bellingham said while pointing out the lacklustre 1-1 draw against Ukraine on September 9.

"It's just a freedom role really. I get given the freedom by the amazing team mates and manager (Carlo Ancelotti) that I have (at Real Madrid).

"I know it depends on the system we (England) play, and we've got so many amazing players to accommodate, and so the team comes first always. I really enjoyed playing in that position today."