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Harry Maguire speaks on handling criticism and aims cheeky dig at Scotland fans

Harry Maguire speaks on handling criticism and aims a cheeky dig back at Scotland fans after they jeered and sang chants about him.

It came with every touch of the ball that he had since he entered the pitch, more so when Maguire produced an own goal, turning the ball past Aaron Ramsdale and into the back of his own net as he stretched for a low cross.

Scotland fans chanted ‘Oh Harry Maguire’ as they hoped to get an equaliser, instead, Harry Kane made sure that wasn’t going to happen.

Maguire said, as per The Sun: “We knew it would be hostile against the Scots and in the second half I got most of it. I am happy to go with that, don’t worry.

“They piled pressure on myself. I wouldn’t say I’m used to it but I can deal with it.

“I would not say I am a person who struggles with pressure mentally.

“I have been through a lot in the last couple of years and I was Manchester United captain for nearly four years.

“It was a huge honour and you take a lot of responsibility and everything that comes with it — and that is a lot of bad as well as good.”

When questioned over the endless baiting he is getting from opposing fans, Maguire smiles, adding: “Well, it pretty much takes the pressure away from my team-mates and puts it all on myself.

“It makes them play better, for sure. It is a little bit of banter and it is a hostile environment, coming away to Scotland.”

Asked why he ended up staying at Old Trafford, Maguire said: “We just didn’t come to an agreement.

“They were happy for me to stay and I was happy to fight for my place.

“I want to do that — and every time I train or play, I will give everything. I want to play games, I want to play football.

“The first four weeks were hard because it was one game a week and the manager didn’t select me. But we have lots of games coming up now and I am sure I will play lots of games.”

Maguire said, as per Sky Sports: “I would not say I am a person who struggles with pressure mentally. I have been through a lot in the last couple of years and I have been Manchester United captain for nearly four years. You take a huge amount of responsibility and everything that comes with it, and that is a lot of bad as well as good.

“I would not say I am used to it, but I can deal with it. It pretty much takes the pressure away from my team-mates and puts it all on myself. It makes them play better, for sure. It is a little bit of banter and it is a hostile environment, coming away to Scotland.

“We have given them a goal, which is unfortunate. We knew it would be hostile and in the second half, I got most of it. I am happy to go with that, don’t worry about that.”

In a more positive light, Maguire also had chants of support from the away fans inside Hampden Park all throughout the second half and said “nothing is better” than receiving an ovation from the England fans.

“They have seen what I have delivered for England over 59 caps,” he added, when asked about the positive treatment.

“I have been to three major tournaments with them, they have followed us around loud and proud and I have grown up a huge England fan, and nothing is better than receiving a great reception every time I play for my country.”

Maguire is now focusing on trying to win a place at Manchester United, struggling for game time which could threaten his place at Euro 2024 – something he says is “too far away” to worry about.

West Ham offered a route to regular action in the summer – with a £30m offer for Maguire accepted by United – but the defender said “we didn’t come to an agreement” and Man U were happy for him to stay.

“Of course, my England career is a big priority,” he added. “And so is my club career.

“I considered everything and I know, at the moment, when I have not started a game in the first four games of the season, the story comes to me.

“I finished off last season with two very strong performances for England and I have played in all five matches to help put us where we are in qualifying, so I need to keep performing when I get chosen.

“Listen, at club football, I want to play games, I want to play football. The first four weeks were hard because it was one game a week and the manager didn’t select me but we have lots of games coming up now and I am sure I will play lots of games.”

In a post on her Instagram story, Zoe Maguire, the Mum of Harry, wrote: ‘As a mum seeing the level of negative and abusive comments in which my son is receiving from some fans, pundits and the media is disgraceful and totally unacceptable to any walk of life never mind someone who works his socks off for club and country. 

‘I was there in the stand as usual, it’s not acceptable what’s been created, over nothing. I understand that in the football world there are ups and downs, positives and negatives but what Harry receives has gone far beyond “football”.

‘For me seeing him go through what he’s going through is not ok. I would hate to have to see any other parents or players go through this in the future, especially the young boys and girls breaking through the ranks today.

‘Harry has a massive heart and it’s a good job he’s mentally strong and can handle it as others may not be able too. I wish this sort of abuse on nobody!’

Harry Maguire's mother Zoe (right) hit back at recent criticisms over her son's performances

Speaking to Sky Sports News on Tuesday night, Southgate said: “He’s just come out and spoken to the media, which I think shows the resilience and the character of him.

“We’re now in a situation where, because of people in our own country, the opposition think they can have fun with him. What’s that about?

“He’s been an incredible player for England in one of the most successful teams we’ve had – critical for what we’ve been doing.

“We allow him to be open to that? It’s a joke; an absolute joke. It makes me livid.

“Thankfully he’s got the support of the dressing room and the people behind him. I thought the England fans in the stadium tonight were absolutely brilliant.

“I’ve no problem with the Scotland fans – they’re having fun. But what stirs that up is people in our own country. Other players will think: ‘Is that what awaits us?’

“Great credit to him that he managed to show the composure with the ball, keep the ball and put that moment behind him.”

Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett on the situation regarding Maguire:

Maguire has become a caricature of calamity in a lot of people’s eyes in and around football and his manager Gareth Southgate has had enough, plain and simple. Rarely have I seen the England manager so animated as he was when he spoke to me in the mixed zone at Hampden Park last night. His paternal instincts came out again. We’ve seen it with the younger players in the squad in the past but last night it was one of the senior players he was looking to protect.

I don’t think the England supporters were critical or mocking Harry Maguire, by contrast they were cheering his name. But the point Southgate is making is the criticism Maguire has had from pundits, the media and on social media has created this caricature of calamity which is fair game for opposing fans to have a go at.

I get the sense Gareth Southgate will dig his heels in here and become more stubborn and continue to pick Harry Maguire and continue to play Harry Maguire even if the noises around that get louder and louder against the idea of him playing for England.

To put that into context, Maguire scored an own goal last night and he was unlucky. That can happen to any player. He actually played pretty well for the rest of the 45 minutes he was on, his positional play was good, he didn’t give the ball away.

Nobody’s wrong, it’s subjective and everyone is entitled to their opinion but Southgate has had enough of the opinions he thinks are misguided being directed pointedly at Harry Maguire.

Maguire thanked Southgate for sticking by him, though knows his place in England’s team at the Euros next summer is at risk he does not start to play more often for United.

“Gareth has been brilliant with me ever since I made my debut,” Maguire added. “He keeps saying ‘keep playing well, keep doing a job for England and keep helping us progress’. You see this team is progressing.

“He played me at the World Cup and I thought I had a fantastic World Cup having played not so many games. But, yes, I have got to keep performing when I get chosen. I felt like I did in Ukraine and in the second half against Scotland, although what happened happened. It was a positive performance from the lads and I was really pleased to be part of that. It is way too far away to consider [the Euros]. I take everything as each week goes by.”

This is what Twitter users had to say as Harry Maguire speaks on handling criticism and aims a cheeky dig at Scotland fans…

@cameron91: “at club football, I want to play games”, yet he refused a move to a club where he’d play games and opted to stay at a club where he knew he wouldn’t play as much, makes sense.

@joseph_swan: Take a pay cut and join West Ham ya prick

@ThomasLister01: The fact other nations are laughing at him tells you enough it’s not right to put him in the spot light the guy needs to start again somewhere fresh without such a spotlight o. Him. Southgate wants to protect him well stop picking him then it’s all more pressure

@Padwords: If he could deal with crosses that would probably be better.

@DCFC_Jim7: I feel for him because all the abuse is so over the top. Takes a strong character to keep putting his boots on through all the abuse

@StefanBrown4: He’s lying out his arse. Someone genuinely needs to check on him

@mikeeb03: Feel bad for him, he’s going through it

@realmixing_desk: While I don’t agree with the personal attacks on Harry Maguire, criticism of his form and previous behaviour has been valid. The reality is Maguire chose to stay for the money despite being acutely aware he’s no better than fifth choice and needs to own his decision. Period.

@LeeNoble20: Hope he gets back to his best. The hate has become far too over the top now. Leave him alone.

@ISimpson73: It’s the ridiculous selection of a player not in form that can’t get on to his club’s bench 99% of the time…

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