Livid England boss Gareth Southgate slams 'idiots' over Harry Maguire treatment

Gareth Southgate has hit out at the ‘idiotic’ treatment Harry Maguire has received over his continued inclusion in the England team and says the criticism is the worst he has ever seen.

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Despite only making one substitute appearance for Manchester United so far this season, the 30-year-old centre-back was picked to start in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Ukraine and came on at half-time in Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Scotland.

He was given a very rough time by the home fans at Hampden Park when he was introduced and, despite playing well in his time on the pitch, was mocked mercilessly for netting an unfortunate own goal.

Southgate did not begrudge Scotland’s supporters for trying to get under Maguire’s skin but slammed the way the defender has been ridiculed and criticised by pundits, the media and even his own supporters.

A visibly livid Southgate told beIN Sports after the match: ‘He was exceptional for us at the weekend. The reaction tonight is a consequence of idiots really from our side who have created that environment.

‘So what I think was brilliant tonight was our fans who were here recognised that they’re going to protect their own. We should be doing that.

‘We’re creating a problem for our own player. Some of the articles that were written, some of the comments that were made, were an absolute joke.

‘He’s been a tower of strength for us through one of the most successful periods of English football and the response tonight – I understand Scottish fans, they’re having some fun – but it’s created by our own side, it’s ridiculous.’

Southgate continued his defence of Maguire in his post-match press conference, saying: ‘From a Scotland fans’ point of view I get it and I’ve got absolutely no complaints with what they did.

‘It’s a consequence of ridiculous treatment of him for a long period of time, frankly. I think our fans recognised, “Okay, there might be a bit of heat from our own supporters but we’re not going to have it from others getting into him”. But it’s a joke. I’ve never known a player treated the way he is. Not by the Scottish fans, by our own commentators, pundits, whatever it is.

‘They’ve created something that’s beyond anything I’ve ever seen. He’s been an absolute stalwart for us in the second-most successful England team for decades. He’s been an absolutely key part of that.

‘I’ve talked about the importance of our senior players, he’s been crucial amongst that. Every time he goes on the field the resilience he shows, the balls he shows, is absolutely incredible. So he’s a top player and we’re all with him. And our fans were brilliant with him tonight.’

On how Maguire has reacted, Southgate added: ‘He’s good, he’s great. We’ve had a good win, he’s been a big part of that. So he’s gone and spoken with the media, because that’s the sort of lad he is. He’s fronted up, as he always does, and again enormous credit to his character.’

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