Euro 2024: You’re killing confidence of England players – Rio Ferdinand slams Southgate over Maguire

Rio Ferdinand gabriel Jesus

Rio Ferdinand does not understand why Gareth Southgate keeps picking Manchester United’s bench warmer, Harry Maguire, ahead of better players

Former Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand has noted that Harry Maguire must be thanking God that Gareth Southgate is England manager.

Ferdinand said that Southgate is now denting the confidence of other young and performing defenders by continuing to pick Maguire for England.

Maguire has since lost his place under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, playing just 23 minutes in their first four Premier League games this season.

Despite this he started alongside Marc Guehi in England’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine in their Euro 2024 qualifier on Saturday.

“If England was in a knife-edge situation I’d get it, but they’re going to qualify, they’re the best team in their group by a mile,” Ferdinand said on Vibe With Five when asked about Southgate’s decision to pick Maguire.

“My biggest concern would be the confidence and the morale of other players in that position. He’s basically saying he’s got no other centre-halves he can trust at all.

“John Stones, who is the best England centre-half at the moment, is injured. Marc Guehi comes in, he just seems to be able to step up to every level he gets asked to step up to, he steps up comfortably.

“Maguire hasn’t played and he’s probably sitting there going, ‘thank god Gareth Southgate is manager because no one else would play me like this’.

“I think for the other players, they must be sitting there going, ‘wow, that’s unbelievable to see someone who doesn’t play a minute of football, doesn’t start for their club, comes in and wears the England badge’.

“It used to be like you had to perform miracles at your club, over a long period of time, to warrant a call-up, let alone a start. And that seems to have changed massively.

“If I’m one of the other young centre-backs – [Lewis] Dunk, what he’s doing at Brighton by the way, new manager, the way they’re playing football, he’s the captain of that team, he’s probably sitting there thinking, ‘if I can’t get a game now, I might as well just throw it in’.

“You’ve got Levi Colwill coming through, a young player. I was that young guy once, if there’s people in my way you aren’t playing [for their club], I’m thinking, ‘wow, he obviously doesn’t rate me’.

“Even if it’s only a smidgen of a percent, that’s enough to knock you off your game confidence-wise, when you go to an England camp, you’re sitting there at training thinking, ‘I know he [Southgate] doesn’t rate me, because the proof is in the pudding’.

“I can’t get my head around how you say it’s because we’re lacking a bit of experience, I can’t understand that as a young defender myself when I was one.

“I don’t even think [Fikayo] Tomori is the biggest one, he’s just one of a cluster. There is a group of them right now, Colwill, Guehi and Tomori.

“The biggest thing for me is Gareth doesn’t know how good they are at this level. They can do what they want at club level but once you get the opportunity to play at international level it’s a different type of football, different style, different pace. 

“Until you’re tried and tested and given a chance to play some games you’re never going to know, so when are we going to find out how good these guys are?

“If Stones or Maguire go lame in a tournament and these guys get thrown in at the deep end? Is that when you’re going to find out because that’s not the right way to prepare for a tournament, you want to know what these guys have got, can they perform, there are points on the line, under pressure with the Three Lions on your chest, it’s a bit different.

“Guehi has done well but there are others there, give them the opportunity, give them a chance, I just think the message it sends to the rest of the squad can’t be right.”

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