Gareth Southgate says Harry Maguire criticism is 'ridiculous' and 'a joke'

Southgate says the own goal in the friendly against Scotland was 'unfortunate'. Credit: PA Images

Gareth Southgate says he has never seen a player treated like Harry Maguire as the England manager labelled the unrelenting criticism of him "ridiculous" and "a joke".

Maguire's struggle for form and game-time at Manchester United have increased the spotlight on a player that has remained an integral part of Southgate's England squad.

The centre-back made his first start of the season in Saturday's 1-1 Euro 2024 qualifying draw against Ukraine and was mocked mercilessly when brought on at half-time against Scotland three days later.

Maguire went on to score an unfortunate own goal but enjoyed the last laugh at Hampden Park as the Auld Enemy ran out 3-1 victors - something the travelling hordes were quick to celebrate with the under-fire defender.

Maguire scored an unfortunate own goal at the match on 12 September. Credit: PA Images

"From a Scotland fan's point of view, I get it and I have absolutely no complaints with what they did," the England boss said.

"It is a consequence of ridiculous treatment of him for a long period of time, frankly.

"I think our fans recognised 'OK, there might be a bit of heat from our own supporters but we're not going to have it from others getting into him'.

"But it's a joke. I've never known a player treated the way he is - not by the Scottish fans, by our own commentators, pundits, whatever it is.

"They've created something that's beyond anything I've ever seen.

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

"I've talked about the importance of our senior players. He's been crucial amongst that.

"Every time he goes on the field, the resilience he shows, the balls he shows is absolutely incredible.

"He's a top player and we're all with him and our fans were brilliant with him tonight."

Maguire and Southgate after the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying Group C match at the Tarczynski Arena in Poland. Credit: PA Images

England fans chanted his name throughout the second half, including bellowing out 'Harry Maguire, he's winning 3-1' after Harry Kane added to Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham's first half goals.

Asked how he is after the so-called friendly, Southgate said of Maguire: "He's good, he's great. We've had a good win, he's been a big part of that.

"He's gone and spoken with the media because that's the sort of lad he is.

"He's fronted up as he always does, so again enormous credit to his character."

Southgate said the own goal was "just unfortunate" on a night when Bellingham shone and England produced an impressive performance.

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