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Harry Maguire boos threaten to shatter England’s reconnection with fans

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In an international window when Paul Pogba revealed his struggles with depression and Gareth Bale suggested ruthless criticism could lead to suicide, how did some England fans treat a man who helped them go to semis -World Cup final and Euro final in the past four years? By booing him before he even hits a ball.

It’s unclear exactly what Harry Maguire did to make Three Lions fans turn against him. Perhaps some England fans just can’t forgive him for his red card in Manchester United’s 4-1 loss to Watford in November; a result that broke the camel’s back for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s doomed reign.

Perhaps they blame him for the 4-1 derby loss to Manchester City or the Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid.

Perhaps those England fans, who continued to boo his first touches in last night’s 3-0 win over the Ivory Coast, care so passionately about United’s trophyless run that spans five years this season that they can no longer sit idly by in silence. Because Maguire’s senseless treatment cannot have been linked to his service to his country.

England fans don’t usually choose the international arena to show their support for United – or the traditional top flight. A friendly in March is not the obvious opportunity to hand it to Maguire with both barrels, as his slump in form has contributed to his club side facing an uphill battle to secure a place among the four first.

Harry Maguire was booed by England fans at Wembley in Tuesday’s friendly win over Ivory Coast

/ The FA via Getty Images

It’s not even like the centre-back let those issues spill over into the game last night as the fans turned on him before he even had the chance to hit the wrong foot.

This is the same traveling Maguire England support considered ‘one of them’ after following the country to Euro 2016 as a fan.

The Maguire who “drinks the vodka…drinks the Jager,” as the terrace chant goes. ‘Old Slabhead’, who put England on track for the World Cup semi-finals in Russia by putting that advantage to good use against Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Maguire, who was the only England penalty taker other than Harry Kane to score from the spot in the shootout loss to Italy in the Euro final last summer. He may be out of shape, but he has a lot of credit in the bank – certainly as far as his country is concerned.

He is not one to let his country down, yet last night sections of those who follow the country let him down. So what exactly do these booed fans have against him? And what do they hope to accomplish?

“I don’t understand how this benefits anyone,” England manager Gareth Southgate said. “I imagine if you asked a few [of them] why they were doing this, they would not be able to answer. It becomes a mob mentality.

“But either we’re all in this together or we’re not. And don’t think for a minute that other players won’t look at this thinking, “That could be me someday.”

“And that’s been one of the problems with playing for England. The players thought, ‘Do I want to go? Because when it gets a little tough the crowd will turn against me “.

Southgate’s concern is well placed. Perhaps his greatest achievement with England was not his outstanding results in consecutive tournaments, but the way he reconnected the national team with the nation.

It was cracked last night – and, in a World Cup year, the danger is that it will be broken.

Jack Grealish, the Euro poster for the fans despite having limited playing time, offered insight from the dressing room, describing the incident as “something the whole team didn’t like at all”.

England have an uncomfortable history of scapegoating their heroes – from David Beckham in 1998 to Wayne Rooney in 2006.

The next World Cup hasn’t even started, and Maguire has already been made the villain by some. Southgate have used this latest camp to put their arm around the £80m defender and show him the kind of confidence and support that has been central to England’s success over the past four years.

He deserves it. He also deserves an apology from anyone inside Wembley who thought the best way to deal with a national hero, going through some sort of form crisis, was to boo the very mention of his name as he walked out. on the field to represent his country.


standard Sport

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