Brendan Rodgers has given his former player Harry Maguire his full support and backing, as well as suggesting that much of the criticism surrounding the player might have been created by ‘his own club’s supporters’.
The Manchester United centre back has been under the microscope at Old Trafford for the last 12 months, after falling down the pecking order at the club and being stripped of the captaincy.
However, he has continued to be picked by Gareth Southgate – for whom he has consistently been a good performer and has had great success, playing a key role in the sides that reached the Euro 2020 final and 2018 World Cup semi-final.
His most recent appearance for England came at Hampden Park in a 3-1 win over Auld Enemy Scotland, with Maguire conceding an own goal after a cross that he arguably had to cut out unwittingly cannoned into the back of his own net.
But his former Leicester City manager Rodgers leapt to Maguire’s defence, and claimed that it was ‘a shame’ that the defender has been scrutinised so heavily by Man United fans.
‘I know Harry well having worked with him and I find it a real shame if I’m honest,’ the Celtic manager admitted. ‘He’s a good guy he’s obviously a top class player and the focus and noise that’s been around him sadly has probably been created more by his own club’s supporters and that’s spilled out into other supporters.
‘I was at the game the other night (friendly against Scotland at Hampden Park) – this is a guy who was in the team of the last World Cup – so he’s not that bad a player! I know having worked with him – if you need someone by your side when it’s tough, it’s him.
‘He’s a great man he’s very honest to the game, I know why Gareth picks him he’s been fantastic for England, a real soldier and a real leader to the young players.
‘He’s tough, mentally strong and he’ll prove throughout the rest of his career that he’s a very good player. As I say, you don’t go from being in the team of the World Cup to being so he’s been recognised as a top international player, to people making fun of you.’
Maguire shot to prominence under at the Foxes – with Rodgers taking charge for the final months of his stay – drawing the attention of many of the Premier League’s heavyweights, including both Manchester clubs.
The 30-year-old kept 16 clean sheets in 69 Premier League matches with Leicester, and became notable for driving runs out of defence with the ball at his feet and was a massive part of the club’s challenge on the top six playing all but 149 minutes in the top-flight when available over two years.
He eventually signed for United for a then-record £80million fee, quickly becoming captain after one season having starred for his new club on his arrival.
A move to West Ham emerged as a potential exit for the player over the summer, with a £30m fee agreed between the clubs, only for Maguire to choose to stay and fight for his place at United.
And Rodgers praised his former player’s decision to fight for his place, hailing his mental strength and claiming that he will prove himself to be a ‘fantastic player’ either at United or elsewhere.
‘It tells you everything about his mentality and his depth of strength,’ he added. ‘There may come a point that he decides he isn’t getting the game time he wants, and he needs to move on to play regularly, and if he does that he’ll prove to be a very, very good player. But he won’t shirk the challenge, that’s for sure. He’s very proud to represent Man United.
‘The summer that he left when I was at Leicester there were other clubs that wanted to sign him but that whole pre-season – and I’ve dealt with lots of players when it’s tough in the transfer market, and they can wobble, but this guy never once did, he was totally committed to Leicester and his team-mates.
‘It was only once toward the very end when he moved that I looked back and I thought his behaviour was absolutely exceptional throughout the whole period.
‘He’ll continue to fight there, his behaviour as a man and his conduct – he’s a great fellow and a fantastic player, and hopefully he gets the chance to show that for Manchester United. If not, and it’s too late for that, then he’ll go and show it somewhere else.’