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Mikel Arteta thinks England fans booing Harry Maguire is counterproductive

England Training – St George’s Park – Friday 25th March
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes England fans booing Harry Maguire over his performances for Manchester United is counterproductive.

National team boss Gareth Southgate called it “an absolute joke” after the United centre-back was targeted for abuse during this week’s 3-0 friendly win over Ivory Coast at Wembley.

Maguire appeared to have been targeted after criticism of how he has performed for his club this season but Arteta insists singling the defender out will just make things worse.

“Obviously they have the freedom to express what they want but if you ask anyone related to football how you are going to get the best out of a player, obviously it is totally against any odds that the player is going to improve if he gets booed,” he said.

“That is something I think we would all agree: you want the best for your team, the best for your national team, obviously that is not going to help the player individually which is not going to help the team collectively.”

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, who worked with Maguire for three months before his sale to United for an £80million world-record fee for a defender, was in agreement.

“My question would be, what help does it do to a player? I found it disappointing for him,” said the Foxes boss.

“Maybe it’s just the modern world, patience is short now. It doesn’t do any player any good: if you are there to support, you support through the good and the bad.

“He is a brilliant guy, a great player and he has the tools to overcome it. He is a resilient guy.”

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira also backed Maguire, who has 42 England caps and has featured in a World Cup semi-final and last summer’s Euro 2020 final, to overcome the abuse.

“I am sure he has the strength to bounce back and to show how good he is. I don’t think he should be too worried about it,” said Vieira.

“The worry is about how you perform on field and there is a way for him to win back the fans, by performing for the national team and he did that really well.

“The important message was from the manager who said that under him he always performs and he is pleased with his performance and that is the most important thing to keep in mind.”

England players Michael Keane, Nick Pope and Harry Maguire

England goalkeeper Nick Pope, centre, said the squad were surprised by the booing of Harry Maguire (Mike Egerton/PA)

Maguire’s England team-mate Nick Pope, who played in the game against Ivory Coast, said the squad were taken aback by the reaction at the time.

“It’s something that was a surprise for myself and for all the players I think,” said the Burnley goalkeeper.

“A player for England who has been outstanding; I think player of the tournament at the 2018 World Cup, player of the tournament at the Euros a matter of months ago really, and what the England team has achieved in the last few years has not really been seen in my lifetime.”

Watford’s former England manager Roy Hodgson felt the blame lies with the fans.

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“(I’ve) seen nothing to warrant any criticism of Maguire, other than the fact that the Manchester United fans are unhappy their team is losing,” he said.

“In which case I would have to say to all fans there ‘grow up’ because if you want to support football, sometimes your team is going to win and sometimes your team is going to lose.”

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