Harry Maguire: England not winning Euro 2024 would be failure
Harry Maguire has branded anything less than winning the European Championship next year as failure after England’s progress in major tournaments.
The Manchester United captain, who has launched a passionate defence of his own form, says the mindset of Gareth Southgate’s players has changed after reaching the Euro final and the World Cup latter stages, with triumph in Germany finals next year as the only measure of success. They took their first stride to the Euros with victory in Italy for the first time in 62 years and have a bigger target beyond qualifying from a group that sees them face Ukraine on Sunday.
“For me I’m with a mindset of, ‘if we don’t win the tournament, it’s been a failure’,” said Maguire. “Obviously, we’ve got to qualify first from a tough group, obviously we’ve come to Italy and got an amazing result. But that’s my mindset. I mean, I’ve been at three major tournaments now and I’ve come so close. So, my mindset is obviously I believe that we have the players to win it.”
Maguire has previously spoken about Southgate giving players belief during his seven years as manager. They expected to beat France in the World Cup quarter-finals in December after reaching the semi-finals in Russia.
“We’re in a good place, we felt like it was in a good place at the World Cup,” Maguire said. “But these big tournaments are decided on the finest margins. We played really well in the World Cup and ultimately, we got knocked out by a good French team. A French team that we believe we can take on and if we play them 10 times, we would give them a good game 10 times and probably win more than we lose.
“However, they’ve proven over the years that they manage to get the job done better than England do. So, it’s something that we’re working on. But, of course, we have to look at our team now and our squad and we have so much talent and so many young players coming through.”
Maguire has been the mainstay of England’s defence under Southgate and his place in the team has never been in doubt despite losing his place in United’s first team. The 30-year-old admits he has not played enough this season, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane the first-choice centre-backs for Erik ten Hag, and that he feels appreciated when he comes on international duty.
“I see myself as a leader for my club as well,” he said. “Obviously, this season, I haven’t played as much as I’d like but for my club, I feel like my form’s been good this year. I know people obviously look at me not playing but when I’ve played, I think in my last eight or nine starts for Manchester United we have won.
“I can’t remember losing a game for Manchester United, it must be early in the season. So, my influence is still there. But, of course, I love playing for my country and in 50-odd caps I feel like I’ve never let my country down. Well, I think in terms of minutes on the clock, I played two games last week, two 90 minutes for Manchester United. Last month, I played four games, started four, so it’s probably as many as a lot of the lads in the dressing room, if not more.
“So, recently, I’ve been playing for United. Listen, I want to play every game, I want to play every game for my club and my country. I feel like I’m good enough to play at a high level and I’ve proven that over the last five, six years now.
“I understand that the lads who are playing at United are playing well and I’ve got some high competition in terms of some amazing centre-halves, it is good for the club and we push each other.”
After defeat by France in Qatar, Southgate’s future appeared uncertain as he considered his future and Maguire was pleased his manager decided to stay on.
“I’m speaking on behalf of myself but I know from speaking to the other lads as well, they were really pleased that Gareth stayed,” Maguire said. “We’ve built something as a group and he’s been the leader of it. I must say that he’s been the one who’s given us hope and given us belief as a country to be successful in these major tournaments and I feel like for sure we benefit.
“Obviously, last season was difficult but I’ve proven myself to Gareth. He has the choice of all the English centre-backs in the country and every time I’m available, I’ve been in the team. I’m sure if you ask the rest of the lads they know what I bring to the team.
“I feel I shouldn’t really need to prove myself at this level. I’ve made over 50 caps and I’m England’s top-scoring defender.”