The England Head Coach defended Harry Maguire after “ridiculous” pre-match booing from the Wembley crowd as England extended its unbeaten run to 22 games with 3-0 win over Ivory Coast in final international friendly before World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
England defeated 10-man Ivory Coast 3-0 at Wembley, with Raheem Sterling scoring one and setting up another for Ollie Watkins before Tyrone Mings headed in the game’s final touch.
However, Maguire’s name was booed when it was read out before kick-off, which caused quite a stir.
Despite the fact that the Manchester United captain is having a difficult season with his club, Southgate condemned the criticism directed at a player who has helped England reach the World Cup semi-finals and the European Championship final.
“I thought the reception was a joke. An absolute joke,” Southgate told Sky Sports. “What he’s done for us and the way he has performed for England has been 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 someone in an England shirt regardless but when he’s played at the level he has, it should be total commitment behind him. So, I don’t get it.
“He was pretty faultless, stepping out from the back for the first goal and was involved in the second goal. This team is totally united. We recognise people have difficult moments but he’s top player and will come through it.
“They are real England fans. And some are influenced by whatever, I don’t know if it’s social media, players that have played previously that are influencing opinion… Obviously his club situation is difficult but he’s in an England shirt.
“I remember a few decades ago when some players were booed in an England shirt – it’s never been acceptable. I’ve never got it. Why would people play any better? Fans should always get behind their team.”
Maguire’s name was sung during the match by supporters and Southgate accepted it wasn’t a case of everyone turning on the defender but he insisted England will need Maguire at his best if they’re to do well in Qatar.