Gareth Southgate has retracted a bold statement he made shortly after being named permanent England manager, as he prepares to field Harry Maguire against Italy.
The unwanted Manchester United player will start playing for England against the Azzurri in Milan on Friday night. Twelve months ago, that in and of itself didn’t warrant any inches, but Maguire’s lack of club-wide movement made him an interesting sidebar.
New United coach Eric Ten Hag Drop the center back On the bench after losing the first two games of the season.
Maguire’s only start since then was in a Europa League loss to Real Sociedad with two Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane United going into central defence.
This got Southgate into a dilemma McGuire One of the first names on the team sheet for the past few years. In fact, he was a key player in the World Cup squad despite missing the first two matches due to injury.
But his inactivity at Old Trafford has left a question mark over his international standing. But a number of sources, including David Ornstein of The Atheltic, indicate that Maguire will start in San Siro.
Southgate has described Maguire’s lack of match time as “not an ideal situation” but the world’s most expensive defender retains the England manager’s support and faith.
If Maguire really does start, Southgate will make the switch from the position we publicly announced shortly after he took office as England’s head coach.
“I never choose reputation’
Talking to Daily Telegraph In February 2017, Southgate warned that he would not select players based on what they had achieved in the past.
“I never choose reputation – form has to come to it,” Southgate said. “You have to look at the opponent and what kind of game you expect and pick the best players for that.”
With these thoughts in mind, it’s hard to see how Maguire will get the nod against Italy.
However, Southgate justified the situation and likened it to a scenario run by English rugby coach Eddie Jones.
Gallagher’s title holder in the Premier League, Saracens was relegated at the end of the 2019-20 season after the salary cap was breached, meaning a number of key internationals have had to ply their trade in the second tier.
“I just read Eddie Jones’ book and he had a similar situation with the Saracens players,” Southgate said.
“Even on reflection, he felt that they were his best players and although they did not mature very well. They were still better than the players who were not at the level.
“So I don’t think there are many players who are not here now who have reached the level who haven’t come in and play.
“See, clearly, it’s not an ideal situation. You want your best players to play regularly so that they are in a good place physically and mentally in a good place.
Maguire is an important player
“But he is an important player for us. I think it is important to support our best players.
“The team we picked, there are quite a few players you could say we could have left out at this point, but I think we wanted to keep this group together and keep them engaged, make them feel part of it.
“But they also know, for some of them, that they need to play more regularly because we’re now only a few weeks into pre-season so physically if they have a few 90 minutes it’s okay.
“Seven, eight more weeks, and then that starts to get more complicated.”
When asked if he had spoken to Maguire about the current dilemma, Southgate said: “I didn’t feel the need to talk to him differently than the rest of the players.
“I’m trying to individually capture all of them, it was a bit more complicated this time because we have 28 so I’m getting there!
“Look, he understands that he’s at a big club, big transfer fees and club captain so I think that’s why it’s being highlighted more.
“But he is focused on training well every day and getting himself back into the team.”
The power tower of England
In Southgate’s defense, Maguire was one of the pillars of England’s consistency. All of his 46 matches were under the former Middlesbrough coach.
“I think, look, you always have to support your referee and we feel he’s an important player,” Southgate said before the Nations League game.
“If we think there are experienced players who are willing to step in and play at a higher level than him, then there will be a different consideration and in some positions there will be a different level of competition in that way.
“He is our most dominant aerial defense center. He and John (Stones) Really incredible with the ball. The amount of pressure they put on the team in the tournaments we played because we don’t always have a central midfielder who can go up in the game.
“It means that there is a huge amount of pressure on the central defender to use the ball well. And these two are as good as any player in world football at doing that.”
Read more: Maguire spoke on how Varane and Martinez’s partnership was broken, with the former Man United star sounding Tin Hag’s warning
Steve Pearson 11 hours ago