Roy Keane takes aim at England boss Gareth Southgate for defending Harry Maguire over boos

England v Ivory Coast pictures

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Roy Keane has questioned England manager Gareth Southgate for labelling the section of home supporters booing Harry Maguire an ‘absolute joke’. Ahead of England’s 3-0 friendly win against the Ivory Coast on Tuesday, Wembley Stadium responded to Maguire’s name in the team announcement with a chorus of boos and jeers.

The 29-year-old has endured a difficult season at Manchester United and has often been crucified online for even the smallest of blunders. Attempts to turn him into a parody have now leaked from social media into reality, and the incident with England fans at Wembley has been roundly criticised.

And after full-time, Southgate slammed those culpable for their actions toward one of the most important players of his tenure as boss. He told reporters: “I thought the reception was a joke, an absolute joke. The way he has performed for us has been absolutely phenomenal.

“I don’t get it. We’re either all in this together, or we’re not. 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. I don’t get it at all.”

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But Keane, despite shivving a cheeky dig at England fans, believes Southgate has blown the situation out of proportion. The United icon wants to see the current club captain earn supporters’ respect through his performances, rather than his manager and team-mates defending him.

“I think Gareth has made it a bigger story than what it is,” Keane told ITV. “Every player gets booed. There are going to be idiots at football matches. England fans have got a lot of idiots. And if they’re going to boo Harry Maguire, I think Gareth could have easily said that it’s no big deal. He actually played well; just focus on that.

He continued: “He played well! And he’ll get fans back onside by his performances, not by people [like Southgate] reacting to a few boos or social media. Forget about it. Be big enough and man enough just to get on with the game. And he played well – that’s the most important thing.”

Keane also accused Southgate of picking and choosing when to support his players after his previous treatment of Raheem Sterling and Maguire. “I think he’s made a bigger story than what it is,” Keane added. “And Gareth is almost picking and choosing when to support his players.

“Raheem Sterling had a bust-up two or three years ago, he was bombed out of the squad. He’s left other players out. I remember when Harry was sent off [in October 2020] against Denmark. He didn’t really support him – I thought – when he was walking off the pitch.”

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