Jamie Carragher has said England fans are ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ when it comes to their criticisms of Harry Maguire, after the Manchester United defender was booed during England’s win over Ivory Coast.
The former Hull City and Leicester City man was jeered by a small section of the Wembley crowd as Gareth Soutgate’s men won 3-0 in Tuesday’s friendly.
Several members of the England squad offered their support for Maguire following the game, and now Carragher has added his voice to the on-going debate.
The Sky Sports pundits explained that Maguire ‘was very good for United prior to this season’ but has struggled in 2021/22.
However, Carragher also feels the United captain’s performances for England in recent years have been excellent, and claimed Maguire has surpassed two of the country’s greatest-ever defenders in terms of what they achieved on the international stage.
“Maguire’s performances when he came back into the England line-up vindicated the idea that his fitness was as vital to Southgate as [Harry] Kane’s,” Carragher wrote in his Telegraph column.
“He was in the team of the Euros alongside Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci, England conceding only five goals in Maguire’s last 19 internationals.
“Maguire is not as good as John Terry and Rio Ferdinand,” he added. “None of the current crop of England centre-backs are. But Maguire has eclipsed them at international level, pivotal to the country reaching a World Cup semi-final and Euros final.
“If a selection of England supporters are jumping on a bandwagon to criticise him now, they have been given momentum by the incessant criticism Maguire has received for his Manchester United performances.”
Why Maguire has struggled
Carragher also explained why the defender’s form has so drastically dropped this season, and feels there are three major issues which have plagued him.
Firstly, Carrgher feels United overpaid when they bought Maguire from Leicester in 2019, while difficulties surrounding the captaincy and a lack of pace have also proved to be problematic.
“From the moment he signed for £80 million, there was an expectation Maguire would be to United what Virgil van Dijk is to Liverpool,” the 44-year-old claimed.
“That did not help. United overpaid to get the deal done. Now, murmurs of dissatisfaction have turned into anger whenever United lose.
“Maguire’s difficulty in turning it around at Old Trafford is his lack of authority in the United dressing room. Since last summer, Maguire has been looking over his shoulder amid a debate as to whether he or Cristiano Ronaldo should be captain. Rather than reassert his leadership, he has fallen short. That has affected his performances.
“Add to that specific demands on the modern centre-half, and he has struggled. Elite coaches are determined to play a high-line defence. Whoever takes over at Old Trafford this summer will do likewise. That does not suit Maguire, especially as there is so much malfunctioning in the United team he is regularly exposed.
“This will be a problem for him going forward. It is easier for a centre-back to hide their weakness in a team that defends deep. At the highest level, that is tougher and Maguire has become the easy scapegoat for a catalogue of United problems.”