Jamie Carragher says Gareth Southgate was correct to stand by Harry Maguire for the Italy and Germany games, but he believes the England defender’s World Cup hopes hang in the balance.
Southgate started Maguire in both of the Nations League games on Friday and Monday against Italy and Germany. And unfortunately for Maguire and Southgate the Manchester United man emerged with more criticism levelled at him.
After starring in the Euro 2020 team of the tournament it has been all down hill for the 29-year-old. He had a poor season for United last term with criticism levelled at him, but still made 30 top-flight appearances.
This time around he has been axed from the United line up. And this season is already looking like a season to forget.
He conceded a penalty with a clumsy challenge on Jamal Musiala after needlessly giving the ball away. Then he was robbed of possession high up the pitch as Kai Havertz doubled the lead for the visitors.
Southgate admitted that “personal errors” accounted for Germany’s first and third goals, absolving Maguire of blame for Havertz’s first goal.
‘It is understandable Gareth Southgate stood by him’
The Three Lions boss has also vowed to stick by his “best and our most experienced players unless we’re in a situation where it’s almost untenable and impossible to pick them”.
And it’s that situation that Carragher thinks England are now in.
“He needed to have a close look at him and see if he could get him up to speed having played so little for United. It is also a reflection of England’s limited options. There is a shortage of quality England centre-backs. Regardless of the names being put forward as Maguire replacements over the last few weeks.
“That’s why Southgate is desperate for Maguire to come good again.”
Maguire future bleak
But with Maguire dropped by Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford, there is a real possibility that he does not start a game between now and England’s World Cup opener against Iran on October 21.
And for that reason Carragher thinks that “untenable” time has already arrived.
“Unfortunately for Maguire, we may already be at that stage,” wrote Carragher.
“Criticism of his performance against Germany is valid and justified. And Southgate must assess if Maguire is mentally right for a World Cup, able to show he can put all the issues behind him.
“In the past, it is something Maguire has struggled with. How can the manager make such a big call before the opening game against Iran unless Maguire is playing for his club?”