Maguire is expected to start in a back three against Italy in the Nations League game, England’s penultimate game before the World Cup. The decision could put more pressure on Southgate, who were booed and booed by supporters at the end of the year Hungary’s shocking 4-0 thrashing in England’s last game in June.
“I am the manager of England and you are judged purely on results and in the moment,” said Southgate. “I’ve been in football for over 30 years and I know how it works with fans. The most important thing is that the players are together, the staff and I am supported by the people I work with and the rest … I am my own biggest critic, I am someone who will always carefully assess everything no matter how good it is has gone, and you don’t expect to lose 4-0 at home and don’t get criticized.”
When asked if he was risking his reputation by standing next to Maguire, Southgate replied: ‘Whatever reputation I have, I’ll put it on it. I think, look, you should always support your judgment and we think he’s an important player.” Maguire has lost his place in the United team since Erik ten Hag’s arrival as coach after being dropped. the embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Brentford more than a month ago.
Since then, Maguire has only started once, Real Sociedad’s 1-0 defeat in the Europa League, before losing his place again for the trip to FC Sheriff, in which he played one minute as a substitute. With John Stones suspended for the trip to Italy, Maguire could finish in a back three, which is unpopular with a group of fans and critics, alongside the recalled Eric Dier and Kyle Walker.
Speaking of Maguire’s lack of action at United, Southgate said: “Look, it’s clearly 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. But he is an important player for us. I think it’s important to support our best players.