England’s Harry Maguire vows to rise above vocal Three Lions critics
Harry Maguire insists his England detractors will not wreck his relationship with supporters and says he remains his own biggest critic even though “there are plenty of critics out there.”
The 29-year-old was speaking at St George’s Park ahead of England’s four Nations League games and aiming to end a difficult season for club and country on a high.
Maguire has struggled with his form at Manchester United and when England last played in March — a 3-0 friendly win against Ivory Coast at Wembley — the centre-back was jeered when his name was read out before kickoff and booed after his first touch.
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Prior to the incident, Maguire had been one of the more popular members of the squad among England’s fanbase and he said: “From my England debut [in October 2017], the England fans have been amazing with me. I have had some amazing times. I have been involved in the biggest games of our country’s recent history.
“The journey I have been on since my debut five years ago to now I have had amazing times with the fans. And I am not going to let the minority, I don’t know how many it was, 10-20 people doing that in the Ivory Coast game to affect my relationship with the England fans, no. I am not going to let that affect my relationship at all.
“I was a bit shocked to be honest. Like I said, I’ve had such a good relationship with the England fans throughout my journey with the England team. I wouldn’t say I was hurt and upset. Obviously, I know my family and my friends might have been affected by it but I was more surprised really.
“I’m my biggest critic. Although there are a lot of critics out there, I’m actually still my biggest! The next biggest is probably my dad. I analyse everything I do, I analyse the way I can improve even though I am 29 years old and have played 40-odd games for England, lots of Premier League games on top of that as well, but every day I’m trying to improve.
“Obviously this season has been a challenging part of my career but during a career of 10 or 15 years, if you want to play at the top, you’re going to have ups and downs, you’re going to have critics, you’re going to concede goals, you’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to go through spells of being under pressure to deliver performances.”
Although Maguire accepts the focus that comes with playing for United and England, he was left fearing for his family last month after Cheshire Police conducted a search of his gardens following a bomb threat.
“Obviously, I’m in a position where I’m going to be criticised,” said the £80 million signing from Leicester City. “Manchester United paid a large sum of money for me, it is one of the most loved clubs in the world and also one of the most hated in the world as well.
“We know we are under the most scrutiny. I totally accept criticism when we concede goals or make mistakes, I’m big enough to accept people getting on my back and saying I can improve. There is a line where we are human beings, I do have a family. People ask if it affects me.
“My mentality is that it doesn’t affect me too much, but when it comes to bomb threats, it is more about family. My fiancee Fern…I’m just happy my kids are at an age where they don’t read things and see things on the news. If my kids were an older age, they could see things and go to school and people are speaking about it, that is when it affects you a little bit more.”
Maguire said he was at a loss to explain United’s poor campaign in which they finished sixth and registered the lowest points tally (58) since the Premier League’s inception in 1992, believing only Cristiano Ronaldo should be absolved from any blame after scoring 24 goals across all competitions.
“This year has just been a difficult season for the club in general,” he said. “I think we can look at individual performances, but I think every player at the club has not performed to a level that’s…apart from Cristiano with his goals.
“But if you look at individual performances, I think it’s hard when you’re playing in a team when collectively we’ve not been good enough, not been tight enough and we’ve not worked well enough as a group.”