Former Manchester United assistant Rene Meulensteen has called social media “the gutter of society” amid intense criticism from Harry Maguire.
The Dutchman is currently an assistant for the Australian national team, having coached under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford between 2007 and 2013.
Meulensteen was present at Manchester during many of the club’s glory years in the Premier League, but since he and Ferguson left in 2013 things have only gone downhill.
Their club have been trophyless in five years under a series of different managers, with recruitment often to blame for a worrying lack of success.
Among their big spenders that didn’t pay off, like Angel Di Maria and Paul Pogba, Maguire – the world’s most expensive defender – has seen his decent start falter in recent seasons.
It saw him drop out of Erik ten Hag’s line-up this season despite being a club captain, but he managed to keep his place in Gareth Southgate’s England XI.
The decision was met with derision online, and Meulensteen commented on the poor state of social media.
“It comes with the territory, as long as the criticism is constructive and not personal you should be able to deal with it as a professional,” he told talkSPORT Breakfast.
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“But social media has become the gutter of society.
“I still remember when it was about Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson was still there and I said, ‘Listen, this is something that’s going to stay here’.
“It’s a vehicle that allows people to express their opinion. It’s been there for thousands of years but they can do it now without emotion, without consequences.
“These are the people the criticism is aimed at, they have to deal with it and it’s not always pleasant and Harry is going through a very, very difficult time, he has to protect himself from that.”
Meulensteen’s son Melle plays for Vitesse in the Eredivisie and has also had to deal with social media consequences.
Although it is difficult for many to simply delete your account, Meulensteen senior often gives advice to his child.
He explained: “I have a son who plays professionally in the Netherlands and I always say there are people if you have a bad time they just yell at you that you are absolutely hopeless.
“It’s no use, they have nothing, the people close to you have value to add to what really matters and that’s what you need to stay close to.”
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