Harry Maguire has opened up about his season of misery and insisted he will bounce back, starting in England’s next Nations League show which begins on Saturday.
The Manchester United captain has been booed by fans of his own team at club and international level as his form has taken a nosedive. But the 29-year-old defender made it clear that the bomb threat to his family’s home on April 20 it was beyond limits. “There is a line,” Maguire said.
“We are human beings. I have a family. People ask if it affects me. My mindset is that it doesn’t affect me too much, but when it comes to bomb threats, it’s more about the family.
“I’m happy that my children are at an age where they don’t read things or see things on the news. If my kids were older, they could see things and go to school and people would be talking about it. That’s when it affects you a little more.
“I am in a position where I am going to be criticized. manchester united paid a large sum of money for me. It is one of the most loved clubs in the world and also one of the most hated in the world.
“We know that we are under the greatest scrutiny. I totally accept criticism when we concede goals or make mistakes. I’m old enough to accept that people climb on my back and tell me that I can improve.
The bomb threat came the next day. United defeat 4-0 at Liverpool and prompted Cheshire Police to return for a precautionary sweep of the property.
The month before, Maguire’s late substitution in United’s Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid was cheered by a section of the Old Trafford support and in his next match – for England against the Ivory Coast in March – was booed by some fans at Wembley.
“I have had incredible moments with him. [England] fans and I’m not going to let the minority, I don’t know how many there were, 10-20 people doing that in the Ivory Coast game, affect my relationship with them,” Maguire said. “I was a bit shocked. I wouldn’t say that he was hurt and upset. I know my family and friends could have been affected, but I was more surprised.”
Gareth Southgate, the England manager, who has always backed Maguire, called the boos “an absolute joke”, saying other players might be wondering if they’d be the next to get that kind of treatment and if they should continue to join. In the old days of England, some players were reluctant to report for international duty.
Maguire said: “There were a lot of young boys in the squad that day, a lot of young boys in the stands, a lot of kids watching who aspired to grow up and be an England footballer, so to hear that for someone who is involved in such a big part of the journey. for the last five years, it’s sad to see.
“It probably affects them [the young England players]. So it was a bit disappointing. We talked about it as a group. But I am sure there will be many good times to come when the English fans will once again show their support and love.
“I am my biggest critic. Although there are many critics out there, actually I’m still the biggest! The next biggest is probably my dad.
“If that had happened earlier in my career, I would have wrestled that night. But I’m 29 years old, I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, and I’ve learned to deal with it through experience. I’m sure I’ll be back playing my best football very soon.”
Maguire, who said he had not yet spoken to new United manager Erik ten Hag, did not mince words about the club’s dismal season.
“You could see towards the end, the confidence wasn’t there,” he said. “We can see the individual performances, but not all the players have had a level… apart from Cristiano. [Ronaldo] with your goals.
“But if you look at individual performances, it’s difficult when you play in a team when collectively we haven’t been good enough.
“Football is my life. I worry about every day in the club. For it to end the way it has: sixth in the league, knocked out of the cups in the games we should be winning… it was disappointing from start to finish.”
England prepare for Nations League ties against Hungary (Saturday) and Germany away (next Tuesday), then Italy (June 11) and Hungary at home (June 14), in their penultimate meeting before for the World Cup finals to begin in Qatar on November 21.
Maguire was told that, given his form, it was good for him that the finals did not start at their usual June time slot.
“It’s fair to say so,” he replied. “After the season we’ve had, all the Manchester United players… I mean, now it’s just me here in the team. Are we among the favorites for the World Cup? Definitely and rightly so.
“In the semi-final against croatia In Russia [in 2018]we had the talent to win that match, but we didn’t have the mentality or the beliefs.
“The most important thing now is that we have a lot of players playing in big European games for their clubs week after week, fighting for the biggest trophies. That experience is crucial in tournaments.
“We were one penalty shootout away from winning in the most pressing game in football. the European Championship at Wembley [last summer]. If we can deal with that, I’m sure we can deal with the pressure of a World Cup.”