HomeWorldUnexpected Harry Maguire Justifies Gareth Southgate's Confidence - For Now IV News
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Unexpected Harry Maguire Justifies Gareth Southgate’s Confidence – For Now IV News

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The curse of Harry Maguire continues. England’s most troubled defender has made four starts for club and country this season. He has lost them all. Compared to the defeats of Brighton, Brentford and Real Sociedad, it almost felt honorable to be beaten by Italy. Kyle Walker may have been mistaken for an amazing goal from Giacomo Raspadori, but Maguire was not. Since he has not tasted victory in the last nine matches he has started for Manchester United and England since Norwich lost disproportionately in April, this looked to be one of his better results.

Perhaps Maguire is now in a state where she is grateful for the smallest kindness. Jude Bellingham, England’s most talented player of all time, may be forced to make his way to the World Cup in the starting 11, at least not out of Maguire. As nothing spectacularly went wrong, he and Southgate may have found some solace in the midst of this restlessness.

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England have been relegated to the Nations League, but Maguire probably won’t be demoted. Unlike Eric ten Haig, Southgate doesn’t have the luxury of replacing him with a World Cup winner and a serial Champions League winner like Rafael Varane.

Given the background – two games before the World Cup, Maguire was ousted by United in the worst period of Southgate’s reign – the selection was as important as his actual performance. It was a statement of faith, although it was not surprising. The willingness to stake his reputation on Maguire showed that Southgate could be linked to veterans past the semi-finals, even right in general. Others have upheld him and, until Maguire came along, Bobby Moore was the only centre-back to play in the semi-finals of two major tournaments for England.

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Yet if the danger is that loyalty retreats on the global stage, Southgate is unwilling to give up a favorite part of its past. England period drama Slabhead is revisited and the time they want to rewind is the summer of 2018 and 2021.

But each was part of an ascent from the depths of League One. Now United’s one-season car accident has terrified Maguire, a fluke who can take wind of a man who thinks accidents will happen, and for her. A terrible Nations League campaign for England comes after United’s worst season in three decades.

It is understandable that Maguire started poorly in Milan. An admittedly offside raspadori escapes his attention to shoot: Gianluca Scamacca climbs up on him to score. Nick Pope survived on both occasions. A vigorous, well-timed challenge on Nicolo Barela was a sign of old authority, but Maguire has always been happy with the ball in front of him. England’s deep defensive line should mean it has to turn and chase less than at Old Trafford. There was a relief when Barela overtook him and hit a wide shot; The Inter Milan midfielder was offside, as indicated by Maguire’s outstretched hand, but he did not like a race.

Maguire’s start in Milan was poor but it improved

(Reuters)

There is a certain clumsiness to Maguire at the turn, as demonstrated by a foul on Giovanni Di Lorenzo. The San Siro was Franco Baresi’s home ground and Maguire will never be as stylish as the AC Milan captain. Baresi anchored perhaps the biggest back four and, when Southgate took off Walker and went into the back quartet in search of an equalizer, England looked to be drawn. Maguire flourished in international football amid a policy of safety in numbers.

There were also glimpses of the qualities Southgate liked. Maguire completed 93 percent of his passes. He had made England’s only attempt on target in the first 75 minutes, even though it was a titled header. It was nonetheless a reminder that he is his country’s top-scoring centre-back. As their drought, with the addition of a Harry Kane penalty, reached 450 minutes, it is worth remembering that the skills of the defenders from the set-piece have scored goals in tournament football.

They may rely on a similar formula. Even the most notable inclusions have come from their history. The recalled Eric Dier has flourished among Antonio Conte’s last three and Mauricio Pochettino had a good season on the right. He could have displaced John Stones but is no threat to Maguire’s spot on the left. Mark Guahi and Fikayo Tomori appear to be the only real options, with six caps between them and little chance of proving their case.

Maguire seemed more comfortable with the ball in front of him

(Getty Images)

Southgate remains committed to Maguire, even as the others have lost their position as starters. Now newly appointed England’s Player of the Year, Bukayo Saka has found the old position of Theo Walcott for Arsenal and Ashley Cole’s former role for England. He is the answer to all questions, but his reappointment reduced his attacking threat and was a sign that the left-back had become a position of weakness. Southgate has four right-backs but no compelling options on the second flank. Manchester United and Chelsea signed on in the summer, replacing Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell.

Of course, United’s troubles have created problems for England. The Shaw-Maguire axis suited Solskjaer and Southgate but it broke down last season.

Bringing in Saka threatens to expose Maguire more without the natural left wing outside of her. It adds responsibility on their big shoulders. In the past, they have enjoyed it. Monday’s meeting with Germany is a rematch of Euro 2020, the Wembley clash when Maguire was man of the match. Opportunities like these gave him Southgate’s confidence, but as long as he kept it up, the heady optimism of 14 months ago is a far cry.

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