Gareth Southgate believes former players are “influencing opinion” around Man United’s Harry Maguire

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England manager Gareth Southgate has hit out at the fans who booed Manchester United defender Harry Maguire at last night’s game against the Ivory Coast.

The Three Lions won this friendly match 3-0 thanks to goals from Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings, but the game was marred by a hostile reception for Man Utd ace Maguire.

The 29-year-old has not been having the best time at Old Trafford this season, which Southgate acknowledged, but he was clearly furious to see England fans booing their own player.

Southgate also seemed to hint that some fans are being influenced by social media, or even by former players working as pundits.

As quoted by BBC Sport, Southgate said: “The reception was a joke, an absolute joke.

Harry Maguire has had a difficult season for Manchester United

“I don’t know how it benefits anybody. We’re either all in it together or we’re not,” he added.

“I imagine if you asked a few of them why they did it they probably wouldn’t even be able to answer. It’s mob mentality. One end of the ground you have a hardcore group trying to get his name sung, it wasn’t everybody.

“Players will look at that and think that could be me. It makes players not want to come. It has happened in the past with John Barnes.

“We need Harry to do well. We aren’t going to win a World Cup with a load of players with three or four caps. That’s never happened in the history of the game.”

He added: “He’s in an England shirt and not only should you support a player in an England shirt regardless, but when you’ve played at the level he has for us – and put the performances in he has – it should be total commitment behind him.

Harry Maguire in action for England

“His performance was pretty faultless really. He stepped out from the back really well for the first goal, was involved in the second one too. The team are totally united. We recognise everyone has difficult moments, but he’s a top player and he will come through it.

“They are real England fans and some are influenced by whatever – social media or players that played previously who are influencing opinion. The club situation is obviously very difficult, but he’s in an England shirt.

“I remember decades ago a few players being booed in an England shirt and it’s never been acceptable to me. Fans should always get behind their team.”

Maguire’s England team-mates also hit out at the fans for booing him, with Jordan Henderson clearly shocked by the response, while Jack Grealish also insisted the team’s recent success at the World Cup and the Euros wouldn’t have been possible without him.

“I can’t get my head around what happened at Wembley tonight. Harry has been a colossus for England. Without him, the progress made at the last two tournaments would not have been possible,” Henderson said.

“To be booed at his home stadium, for no reason? What have we become? What happened tonight was just wrong. As someone who wants to win with England I feel fortunate to share a dressing room with him. We all feel the same.”

Grealish added: “Harry has been unbelievable for this country – the World Cup, the Euros, he has been brilliant.

“Our first two goals, the first one comes from him driving with the ball and the second one comes from him driving a little bit. Not every centre-back has those qualities.”

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