Manchester United have been told they have a vital role to play in steering Harry Maguire back to calmer waters after being subject to more heavy criticism while on England duty.
Having started the first two Premier League games this season – when United were soundly beaten – Maguire has since been dropped by Erik ten Hag with Raphael Varane and summer signing Lisandro Martinez now preferred as first choice at centre-back. Despite that, Maguire was trusted to start for England against Italy and Germany in two Nations League matches during the international break.
Italy sentenced Maguire and his teammates to relegation on Friday night as they ran out 1-0 winners. It prompted backlash for the collective – including Maguire – who was then at fault for the Germany opener at Wembley on Monday night.
On this occasion, giving away a penalty did not cost England overall, as that conversion from Ilkay Gundogan was followed by five more goals in a thriller beneath the famous arch. It finished 3-3 in what was their last game before England’s impending World Cup finals in Qatar.
So what can United do to bolster England’s chances in that unique winter showcase?
Speaking about Maguire while on Channel 4 punditry duties, former England playmaker Joe Cole said: “I think the next six weeks are a really important time in Harry Maguire’s career, because we know he’s a quality player. We’ve seen him do it for England and he’s been incredible for England over the years.
“He’s obviously in a low point in his career. Every day over these six weeks is an opportunity to build his confidence up and the people around him and everything and perform. But one thing we must never forget on the big stage at tournaments, he’s been outstanding for England and the next six weeks are vital for him to get up to speed.”