Keane criticises Southgate for handling of Maguire booing

By Sports Desk March 30, 2022

Roy Keane has taken aim at England manager Gareth Southgate, accusing him of "picking and choosing" when to support his players after Harry Maguire was booed by his own fans at Wembley on Tuesday.

Southgate came out in staunch defence of the centre-back, labelling the reaction from home supporters during the Three Lions' 3-0 friendly win against Ivory Coast as "an absolute joke".

However, Keane believes the former Middlesbrough boss made it "a bigger story than it is", and questioned why he had not offered the same support to other players in the past.

Speaking during ITV's post-match coverage of the game, the former Manchester United captain said: "Every player gets booed. There is going to be idiots at football matches – England have a lot of idiots.

"Gareth could have easily said tonight 'it is no big deal'. He actually played well tonight, just focus on that.

"He is almost picking and choosing when to support his players. [Raheem] Sterling had a bust-up two or three years ago and was bombed out of the squad. He's left other players out.

"I remember when [Maguire] was sent off last year against Denmark and [Southgate] didn't really support him when he was walking off the pitch.

"I think he has made it a bigger story than it is. Just get on with the game.

"He played well and he will get fans back on side with his performances, not by people reacting to a few boos or social media. Be big enough and man enough to get on with the game."

Maguire posted a message on Twitter on Wednesday morning simply saying "Enjoyable week playing for my country."

The United defender has had public support from a number of England team-mates since the game, with Jack Grealish, Declan Rice, Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane among those who have criticised the fan reaction.

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    The Three Lions progressed past Senegal in the first knockout round to clinch a tie against the defending champions, presenting England's biggest test so far at the tournament.

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    While those improvements are significant, England have fallen at a crucial hurdle against tough opponents in each of those tournaments – losing 2-1 to Croatia in 2018 before a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat at Wembley last year.

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    "We've made quite a bit of history over the last four or five years, not all of it good, but that's the great challenge," he said.

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    England's success under Southgate is a far cry from his predecessors, where disappointing exits from tournaments were par from the course, which led Southgate to identify the difficulties faced on the international stage – and highlighted bringing in young players early was crucial.

    "There have been lots of moments when to play with England is difficult. It's a different sort of challenge to your club. It's far more scrutiny," he explained.

    "So you have to be able to handle that. When we're selecting players, we're looking at their ability to handle that mentally as much as anything else.

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