England boss Gareth Southgate was fuming about the treatment dished out to Harry Maguire by the Wembley fans during his side’s 3-0 friendly win over Ivory Coast.
The Manchester United skipper was jeered pre-match and early on in the game as Jude Bellingham produced an outstanding individual display as England followed up Saturday’s 2-1 win against Switzerland with a dominant display.
The hosts were well in control and leading through Ollie Watkins’ close-range finish, before former Tottenham defender Serge Aurier’s dismissal – when he was shown a second yellow card for dissent – five minutes before the break.
Raheem Sterling, skipper for the night and creator of Watkins’ 30th-minute opener, made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time, effectively ending the game as a contest.
Defender Tyrone Mings’ injury-time header, which actually came off his nose, completed the formalities.
And speaking after the contest, Southgate was not happy about the treatment United star Maguire received.
He told Sky Sports: “I thought the reception was a joke, an absolute joke. The way he has performed for us has been absolutely phenomenal. I don’t get it. We’re either all in this together or we’re not.
“He’s in an England shirt and not only should you support a player in an England shirt regardless, but when you’ve played at the level he has for us and put the performances in he has, it should be total commitment behind him. I don’t get it at all.
Raheem Sterling is on FIRE 🔥
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“His performance was pretty faultless really. He stepped out from the back really well for his first goal, was involved in the second one too. So, yeah. The team are totally united. We recognise everyone has difficult moments but he’s a top player and he will come through it.
“They are real England fans and some are influenced by whatever – social media or players that played previously who are influencing opinion. The club situation is obviously very difficult but he’s in an England shirt.
“I remember decades ago a few players being booed in an England shirt and it’s never been acceptable to me. Fans should always get behind their team.”
Southgate cautious over Bellingham impact
As for Bellingham’s dazzling display, Southgate was quick to temper expectations, adding: “There’s a long way to go. We’re good at building our players up. We have lots of talent.
“Jude seems to have the mentality to want to keep getting better. We’re really pleased with what he does but there’s still a long way to go.
“There’s great competition for places so when we’re developing young players we need to do it really carefully.
“We build players up in our country so quickly. I’m not saying he isn’t an exciting talent – because he is – he is a great kid to work with. But we shouldn’t put a load of hype around them. The rewards in our country and the spotlight is different.
“I’m being ultra cautious. I don’t think it will diminish his desire. But I also don’t want to create a hype around our young players.”
Sterling honoured to skipper England
Sterling admitted it was a thrill to captain his country in the victory, adding: “A good night, it is always an honour to get given the opportunity to wear the captain’s armband, I wore it with great pride and it was a great team performance in the end.
“It is a great privilege and never in my wildest imagination as a young player coming through did I think I would captain England one day, it comes with maturity the manager sees in you, the passion and love I have for the country.
“I always have this thing where I remember me coming through as a young player and it is nice when senior players put their arm around you, it is a new environment and all we can do is make sure the new ones feel as comfortable as possible.
“We continue to try to build, one game at a time, wait for the summer and put some good performances in.”