Maguire urges England to get back to ruthless best after Prague defeat

‘It’s sloppy and it has to stop’: Harry Maguire urges England to get back to ruthless best and admits defenders’ poor club form is not helping

  • England’s back line crumbled as Czech Republic took victory in Prague 
  • It featured players who have been struggling with their clubs in the league 
  • Maguire admitted club form may have had some impact upon England’s defeat 
  • The Manchester United man does however refutes England are ‘shipping’ goals 

As a recipe for success, bringing together Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham players to form a watertight defence for a tricky away England trip to Prague had some obvious flaws. 

At least Kieran Trippier, the fourth of the defensive quartet Gareth Southgate selected, is now at Atletico Madrid, who are third in La Liga.

Neither Danny Rose nor Michael Keane are at anything like their best as Spurs and Everton endure wretched periods. Harry Maguire has personally made a fair start to his Manchester United career but is playing in another failing team. 

Harry Maguire has urged his England team-mates to get back to their ruthless best

So it is not as if any of those three came into the Czech game on Friday night flushed with confidence. It showed — and Maguire conceded as much.

‘Maybe,’ he said when asked directly whether club form had contributed to defensive woes. ‘We bring our club football into international level. It was a difficult game. Don’t get me wrong, we started sloppy. We took the lead in the game but we didn’t deserve to.

‘In the second half we controlled the game a lot more than the first half but we gave them a sloppy goal to win the game. We do need to improve on that. We were not at our best and got punished for it.’

Maguire and his team-mates were outmuscled as England suffered a surprise defeat

Since June, England have conceded three goals against both Holland and Kosovo and now two against the Czech Republic. As concerning in the first half was their inability to defend corners, which was also how they conceded the first goal to Holland in the Nations League semi-final in June.

‘The first goal was a set-play and we probably need to tighten up on those,’ said Maguire. ‘We’ve been really good over the last year or so at defending set-plays.’

Playing out from the back also cost England twice against Holland, for the opening goal against Kosovo last month and again on Friday when Zdenek Ondrasek scored the winner after Jordan Pickford attempted a chipped pass long to Danny Rose.

Maguire said: ‘The second goal has come from us being a bit too open when we were trying to build up from the back and maybe it was at a stage of the game when we shouldn’t have looked to do that. 

Zdenek Ondrasek scored the winner after Jordan Pickford tried a chipped pass to Danny Rose

‘We could have consolidated the point and tried to play in their half a bit more. So maybe better game management would have helped us, at worst, draw the game 1-1.’

Yet Maguire takes issue with the fact that defensive flaws are an ongoing problem. When asked about a run of games ‘shipping goals’, he countered: ‘This “run of shipping goals”, I don’t know where it’s come from apart from the last couple of games. 

‘We will work hard and try and improve. But shipping lots of goals over the last couple of years — we haven’t.’

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