Gareth Southgate leapt to the defence of Harry Maguire after his every pass was sarcastically mocked against Scotland with the England manager calling it a “joke” and added his treatment was “ridiculous”.
Maguire, who started on the bench for England in their 3-1 win over Scotland, was brought on at half-time owing to an injury to Marc Guehi and was subjected to ironic cheers from the Scottish fans for every pass he made. The England defender went on to score an own-goal in his team’s otherwise impressive victory.
It was a similar situation to the one he faced in Manchester United’s clash with Arsenal where his arrival on the pitch was roundly cheered by Arsenal fans.
Southgate didn’t hold back when asked for his assessment of the somewhat brutal treatment of the Manchester United man.
He said: “From a Scotland’s fans point of view, I get it. I’ve no complaints with what they did. It’s a consequence of ridiculous treatment of him for a long period of time.
“Our fans recognised that there might be a bit of heat from our own supporters but we’re not having it from others getting into him. It’s a joke. I’ve never known a player treated the way he is, not just by Scottish fans, but by commentators, pundits, whatever, they’ve created something beyond anything I’ve ever seen. He’s been a stalwart for us, part of the most successful England team for decades.
“He’s been a key part of that. I’ve spoken about the importance of the senior players, he is crucial to that. Every time he goes on the field, the resilience and balls he shows is absolutely incredible. He’s a top player. We’re all with him. I feel very strongly about it.
“He’s good, he’s great. He’s been a big part of that win. He’s spoken with the media as that’s the sort of lad he is. He’s fronted up as he always does.”
Clarke: Sometimes you have to take your medicine
In his post-match assessment, Scotland manager Steve Clarke vowed they would learn from the defeat.
“I had some things I wanted to see tonight before we go to Spain next month for the competitive game. I’ll go away and I’ll analyse the game and I’ll see what I can do better.
“There were some good things, there were some things we’re going to have to be better at and that’s out job.
“The most important thing in this camp was to get three points in Cyprus and we achieved that.
“We knew playing against England was going to be difficult, playing away against Spain is going to be difficult but if you want to learn as a team you have to play against good opposition so we have to go away, learn our lessons and try to be better in the future.
“In the competitive games we’ve got five wins and 15 points. I told the lads it’s been a successful camp, it would have been nice to end on a positive result against England but the objective of what we came in to do have been done.
“We didn’t want to lose to our auld enemy but on the night England were better. Sometimes you have to take your medicine in football, tonight we’ll take our medicine and try to improve.”
Scotland’s next game is a Euro 2024 Qualifier against Spain in Seville on October 12 – kick-off 7.45pm.
England’s next outing is against Australia in a friendly at Wembley on October 13. Their next Euro 2024 qualifier is versus Italy on Tuesday October 17.