Neville backs Maguire to ‘come through it’ at Man Utd after ‘massive success’ with England

Harry Maguire appeals for a goal kick Credit: Alamy
Harry Maguire appeals for a goal kick Credit: Alamy

Gary Neville has backed Harry Maguire to overcome his recent “tough spell” at Man Utd after proving himself for England once again.

Maguire has often been the scapegoat for bad performances of the team over the last season or two with the centre-back putting in a number of poor performances.

The Man Utd skipper has lost his place in the team this season with Erik ten Hag preferring a central defensive partnership of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez.

But England boss Gareth Southgate has put his faith in Maguire with the defender never letting the Three Lions down.

And Man Utd legend Neville says he “can’t think of one player who played better for their country than their club” during his time as a player.

Neville told Sky Sports: “I think he feels loved more by England maybe, I think he feels more at home. During my career, I can’t think of one player who played better for their country than their club. Harry Maguire does. A number of players feel like that, Raheem Sterling in the first game against Iran.

“I thought Harry would be left of a back three, if he played at all. For him to play the games as he has is a massive success. He’s a really good player, he’s just had an awful time at United. That’s a very unforgiving place, and if you don’t get it right it can eat you alive.

“I think he’ll come through it at United, just look at Marcus. He’s been through a tough spell, but he’s come out the other side. There are great players who I played with at United who went through the same experience, where it was tough for them for a period and they were better for it.”

And Neville doubts England will play a back three now for the rest of the tournament with Maguire and John Stones forming a solid partnership.

Neville added: “I always thought we’d play three at the back in this tournament, but I don’t think we will now. I didn’t think the centre-back pairing would be strong enough, but John Stones and Harry Maguire are holding up.

“It’s whether what they’ve played against so far in the first three games is going to be anything like what they face moving forward, and I don’t think it is.

“It looks like a collision course waiting to happen doesn’t it? [Kylian] Mbappe versus Walker. We’ve got the perfect right-back to deal with Mbappe if anyone can – physical, pace, experience.”

And Neville has also defended Southgate – who has come under fire for not playing certain players – after he got it right again in England’s 3-0 victory over Wales.

Neville continued: “Southgate does get unfair criticism, of course he does. He’s the best-performing England manager we’ve ever had, apart from Alf Ramsey. Stop it there!

“For all the fashionable, world-class managers we’ve had in the last 25 to 30 years, from all around the world and in this country, he’s outperformed every single one by a mile.

“His legacy with England is set by getting to a semi-final and a final. Getting over the line will be thrown back at him one day probably, but it won’t be by me, someone who went to eight tournaments and got to one semi-final and three quarter-finals, knocked out on penalties five times.

“I’ll be saying he’s had the most incredible England experience. These teams like Argentina, Spain, France, Germany, Brazil. They’re serious football players, their squads are frightening and always have been.

“For England to be in this category and company is down to Gareth and the players and what they’ve achieved.

“If they lose to Senegal on Sunday, he’ll get a massive amount of criticism. But I think we’ll get through, and it’ll be really tough. We’ll have to jump over a lot of hurdles, and I think it’ll be nerve-wracking for large parts of it, knowing how it is. I don’t think we’ll get through that game easily.”

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