Rio Ferdinand says Harry Maguire was always “open” to making a mistake, but has called on the England man to be “mentally strong” after his error against Germany.
England came from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 against Germany, but eventually had to settle for a 3-3 draw after Nick Pope spilled a shot late on. Maguire was given another start in a back three for England alongside John Stones and Eric Dier.
It was his second start in three days for England, having not started for Manchester United for three weeks. And his 46th cap did not got to plan as he gave away possession which led to him giving a penalty away to hand Germany the lead.
Gareth Southgate has stuck by his skipper and his England team-mate have done the same. But Monday night’s Wembley error will certainly not have enhanced his chances of starting at the World Cup in Qatar.
“I feel for Harry, every mistake is being punished and scrutinised,” wrote Ferdinand on Twitter after Maguire gave away the penalty. “It comes with the territory though. He needs to be strong mentally to get through this!
“Playing with no games at this level always leaves you open.”
Southgate had Marc Guehi, Kyle Walker and Conor Coady on the bench at Wembley. While Fikayo Tomori and Ben White were not even involved in the matchday squad.
The England boss could certainly face a big dilemma ahead of the World Cup. But for now he is happy to support the under-fire defender, who has been dropped by Erik ten Hag.
‘Untenable and impossible?’
“I know everyone will focus on Harry but there were some very important moments that Harry delivered during the two matches,” the England boss said. “Luke Shaw was another example of somebody [who delivered moments], he’s an outstanding footballer.
“So what do we do? Not pick Luke Shaw because he’s not playing enough football or do we pick a player who can do what we saw tonight?
“That’s always going to raise debate but I think in these moments we’ve got to back our best and our most experienced players unless we’re in a situation where it’s almost untenable and impossible to pick them.”
As Ferdinand has alluded to, Maguire is more susceptible than most to making mistakes because he is not playing at club level. By the time the World Cup kicks off on November 21 the defender’s only starts in the two months leading up to the World Cup may well have been the two recent England games.
If Ten Hag continues to use Lisandro Martinez and Rafael Varane at centre-back then Maguire could head to the World Cup massively undercooked.
Maguire could head to Qatar without any starting action for United for 10 weeks, giving Southgate a big decision to make. Would that then be “untenable and impossible” for the United man to start against Iran?
Maguire having a ‘tough’ time
Another player who faces a similar scenario is Shaw, but he enjoyed a better evening, scoring in the draw with Germany.
“I will be honest, it is a tough period at the moment,” Shaw replied when asked by BBC Football Daily about Maguire.
“Of course Harry is an amazing player, an amazing character. He has taken a lot of stick, probably more than I have ever seen before in football but he never hides away, he is always there.
“You can have people that can hide away and not want to be in the spotlight but he keeps putting himself in the spotlight and it shows the strength and character he has got because, come on, everyone knows that he is an unbelievable player.
“At the moment the confidence might not be there because it might feel like the whole world is against him, it is tough for him but us as players, staff we are all behind him because he is a very important player and it shows Gareth’s trust that he has played in both games.
“Look at the Euros and what he has done, people need to understand he is a big part of the England team and they have to accept it.”
Shaw feels support from Southgate
Shaw’s own absence from the United team has not impacted on his international form as he put in a stellar performance against the Germans, grabbing his third England goal along the way.
“I think it shows the trust Gareth has in me,” he said of keeping his England place despite not playing regularly for his club.
“I look at it from a club perspective, I know the first two games weren’t good enough and fully understand the manager has to make decisions.
“Now the team has been winning and we’ve got to bide our time, the only thing I can do is keep supporting the team, keep training hard and just wait for my time because I think if I put my head down and not care it would be a bigger hill to climb when I want to play.”
ls but I’ll focus on the fact they played with tremendous spirit and showed a belief that we haven’t shown in the last few games. I thought the crowd saw that and rose to that.”