Harry Maguire was booed by certain sections of the England support during the friendly win over Ivory Coast on Tuesday night.
In a routine victory that saw Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings score as well as Serge Aurier pick up a red card, the reception reserved for Maguire dominated the headlines.
The Manchester United captain is currently wading through the toughest spell of his professional career with fans and pundits alike debating whether he should have been called up to the England squad.
Brutal reception for Maguire
However, even within the context of all the criticism that Maguire has been receiving, it was still eyebrow-raising to hear the response that was prompted by his name being read out about before kick off.
Yes, Maguire has been desperately out of form and yes, there’s reason to think he should have been left at home, but does that mean some of his own supporters should be booing him?
England defender Harry Maguire was booed by some sections of the crowd ahead of the friendly against the Ivory Coast at Wembley.pic.twitter.com/bB0P8GaIUo— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 29, 2022
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of onlookers were singing from the same hymn sheet with the condemnation of Maguire – presumably because of his recent performances – seeming very, very harsh.
And Gareth Southgate was under no illusion that the booing was uncalled for in a week where he’s unabashedly defended a player who shone for England at Euro 2020 and the 2018 World Cup.
Southgate hits back in interview
The England boss gave a passionate interview to Sky Sports after the final whistle in which he was more than happy to stand by Maguire and let the vocal minority of England fans know that he was unimpressed.
Per the BBC, Southgate fired back by saying: “The reception was a joke, an absolute joke. The way he has performed for us has been absolutely phenomenal, I don’t get it. We’re either all in this together or we’re not.
“He’s in an England shirt and not only should you support a player in an England shirt regardless, but when you’ve played at the level he has for us – and put the performances in he has – it should be total commitment behind him. I don’t get it at all.
🗣 "I thought the reception was a joke, an absolute joke. What he has done for us, the way he has performed for England, I don't get it"— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 29, 2022
Gareth Southgate was FURIOUS after Harry Maguire was booed by some England fans ahead of the friendly against the Ivory Coast 😡 pic.twitter.com/GwGSApw7aj
🤔“Every time he's on the pitch, every action is analysed to death.”— SPORF (@Sporf) March 29, 2022
🗣“In my opinion he’s the best CB at his club.”
👊“We need Maguire playing well if we're going to have a chance of doing well this summer.”
🤝Southgate backs Harry Maguire after he was booed by @England fans. pic.twitter.com/seoxPuqkbo
“His performance was pretty faultless really. He stepped out from the back really well for the first goal, was involved in the second one too.
“The team are totally united. We recognise everyone has difficult moments, but he’s a top player and he will come through it.
“They are real England fans and some are influenced by whatever – social media or players that played previously who are influencing opinion. The club situation is obviously very difficult, but he’s in an England shirt.
“I remember decades ago a few players being booed in an England shirt and it’s never been acceptable to me. Fans should always get behind their team.”
A tough time for Maguire
The wider discussion about Maguire’s future for United and England is a legitimate one and there’s good reason to think that he might need time out of the squad to regather his form.
However, it’s difficult to listen to the negative reception that certain supporters gave him under the Wembley arch and not think that the disdain being aimed in his direction is going too far.
The most expensive defender in history will simply have to find solace in the fact that Southgate is behind him all the way, even if sections of the England support well and truly aren’t.