Rio Ferdinand thinks the “special relationship” between Harry Maguire and Gareth Southgate was enough for the Manchester United defender to start for England against Iran.
The Man United captain has come in for a lot of criticism over the past couple of seasons with the 29-year-old taking the blame for defensive issues at the club.
Maguire has undoubtedly been well below his best form in a United shirt but Southgate still trusts the former Sheffield United, Hull City and Leicester City centre-back to perform in an England shirt.
And Southgate has again put faith in him with a starting place in England’s starting XI against Iran in their first match of the 2022 World Cup.
Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Micah Richards are alongside Gary Lineker for the BBC’s coverage of the Three Lions’ opening match and all had views on Southgate’s team selection.
Reacting to the team, Shearer told BBC Sport: “I’m pleased he’s gone with a back four, I think that was the right thing to do. The big decision was who was going to play alongside John Stones. We know how loyal Gareth is to his players and he’s been very loyal to Harry Maguire in doing that.
“But I like the tournament experience in that squad but I also like the youth in there as well.”
When put to him that Maguire has had a tough time this season but that Southgate has faith in him, fellow pundit Ferdinand replied: “Yeah he has and it goes back to the experiences he’s had in tournament football. Impeccable in an England shirt, he’s been faultless, team of the tournament in the last one, so that’s what he’s gone with.
“Yes, he isn’t playing, yes he’s out of form for Manchester United but you can see that there is a special relationship that’s been built through time and experiences with Gareth Southgate.”
On whether he was surprised Phil Foden was left out of the starting XI, another BBC pundit Micah Richards continued: “Yeah, maybe, Phil Foden has been in such good form for Manchester City, probably because he’s played a more advanced role for Man City.
“Today it looks like Mason Mount is going to play in that midfield area. That’s probably the one surprise in there and as the guys alluded to, Maguire, he has been faultless.
“We talk about trust, when a manager trusts you, he’s trying to create that environment when you come away with England and he’s not let England down. So I understand why he’s starting.”
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