Date published: Wednesday 14th October 2020 10:48
Gareth Southgate threw his full backing behind England centre-half Harry Maguire after hinting that the greater profile he now has as a Man Utd and England footballer is a difficult combination to deal with.
England failed to follow up on their unlikely victory over Belgium after slipping to a 1-0 defeat against Denmark.
Harry Maguire was given his marching orders in the first half for two bookable offences, while the otherwise outstanding Reece James saw red after the final whistle for dissent towards the referee.
Speaking to Sky Sports following the match, Southgate praised the resilience England showed while down a man, and spoke at length on Maguire’s latest disappointment.
“I was very proud of the performance. I thought we were excellent with 11 men and causing them all sorts of problems down our right-hand side.
“The sending off alters everything and the penalty. It’s a foul on Kyle Walker and I don’t see the foul at all. The less said the better.
“We showed resilience and showed a great example of how to play with 10 pragmatically, and when to press. Their keeper made an amazing save to keep it at 1-0.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys in the last 10 days, they are learning and improving. We’ve had any number of changes to our preparation and showed resilience.”
Maguire compounded a difficult period of his career with his sending off, but Southgate threw his full backing behind the player he described as a “massive part of what we do”.
“The first yellow was a challenge he didn’t need to make and it put him on edge,” said Southgate. “The second one is an interception and it just takes him.
“He’s a great player and massive part of what we do. He’s got a lot sticks thrown his way, he’s got our full support. He just needs the reassurance that we have total belief in him. He’s had to deal with all sorts, and from some people who should know better.
“When you’re a bit older you can rationalise it, and move forward from it. He’s experiencing it from the first time really, he’s had setbacks but his profile has changed in the last couple of years because of the club he plays for and the success he’s had with us. He’s got to keep going and the tide will turn.”
England and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice praised the side’s battling spirit shown after the red card, but refused to get drawn into the discipline debate after being quizzed on the subject.
“It’s tough to take,” said Rice. “A defeat is not the direction that we wanted to head in tonight, we wanted three wins. Our second half performance, we dug in and showed strength and character.
“I think there was a frustration at the end, because we lost, it’s not the way we want to go.”
When asked about England perceived disciplinary problems, Rice said: “The limelight is always on you when you play for England, you always need to be on it, here and away from here, because you are always representing England.
“Our lads are great, we all love each other and there’s real focus for us.”
On Harry Maguire’s impact on the team: “He has been fantastic in the last 10 days. I love to have him playing behind me, because he plays little balls into me and is always talking. He’s a great player and he’s been a great servant for England.”
England captain Harry Kane also gave his thoughts on the topics of discipline and Maguire, telling Sky Sports: “It’s all part of the learning curve, and the experience of international football.
“Obviously he’ll [Maguire] be disappointed, but he’ll bounce back. He’s had a great three or four years. Football is all about working hard and I’m sure that’s what he’ll do.
“I don’t think we’ve got [disciplinary] issues. It was a night that we put everything on the line.
“The one at the end was just laying your heart on the pitch, when things don’t quite go your way. I can’t fault the boys in that way. It’s just about being professional and being role models for everyone.”