As is always the case, Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad has caused a lot of outrage on social media. The omission of James Maddison has drawn the ire of Leicester City fans. Many Brentford fans feel Ivan Toney and Rico Henry should have earned a call-up. With international football on tv returning next weekend, there is a lot of passionate debate going on around who should and shouldn’t be in this next England squad.
As discussion around football in general continues to degenerate into pure tribalism, a Three Lions squad announcement cannot go on without hordes of fans of every Premier League club complaining about why so-and-so didn’t get picked by Southgate.
However, on this occasion there does seem to be one decision which has united, no pun intended, the England masses. That call was the inclusion of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire. Almost universal mockery has been levelled at Southgate from all corners of the football landscape, including United fans themselves.
Southgate made it clear that he will stay loyal to players who have done well for him in the past and nobody can deny that Maguire has been fantastic for England. The trust he gets from the manager probably gives him the confidence to rise to the occasion on national team duty. Nonetheless, there’s a poor fun of form and then there’s an entire season of horrific performances. To say that Maguire is not worthy of playing at international level right now would be an understatement.
Leaving out Maddison, despite him outperforming several players in the squad in similar positions, has led to anger on social media. Picking Maguire has provoked more laughter than rage. It’s been a torrid season for the former Leicester man and his confidence in a United shirt has to be at an all time low. Perhaps Southgate doesn’t want to dent it any further by leaving him out but if he starts in the upcoming Nations League games against Hungary, Germany and Italy, over the likes of Fikayo Tomori, the spotlight will certainly be on the centre back.
An even bigger story surrounding this squad announcement in United terms may be the fact that Maguire is the sole inclusion from the Old Trafford club. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Luke Shaw all failed to make the squad, despite all being present at the Euros last summer. The fact that only Maguire has retained sufficient trust to be named for these upcoming matches shows how bad a season it has been for United.
The season began with such optimism after the club finished 2nd last term and added significantly to the squad in the summer but it just hasn’t panned out as hoped. It’s been a long, hard season in which several individual players have regressed greatly, something which is evident by their inability to make this squad.
Erik ten Hag’s arrival should bring renewed optimism to the camp, but for now this latest England squad announcement serves as a reminder of the horror that has been this season for Manchester United.