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IAN LADYMAN: Harry Maguire put in a reasonable display in England's 1-0 loss to Italy

England lost 1-0 to Italy at the San Siro on Friday night in the Nations League

IAN LADYMAN: Harry Maguire put on a reasonable display in England’s 1-0 loss to Italy… he’ll still have to fight for a place at Manchester United, but he’s far from Gareth Southgate’s biggest problem

  • England lost 1-0 to Italy at the San Siro on Friday night in the Nations League
  • They are winless in their last five games as they prepare for the World Cup.
  • Despite his recent lack of playing time, Harry Maguire put in a solid performance.

On the giant screen at halftime in the dear old San Siro, it simply said Grazie Milano. Thanks Milan. So that? to come? Why stay? Why not complain?

Either one could have been appropriate. For a long time this was a really poor game of international football.

However, in the gods behind a goal, something else was going on as the England and Italy players drank water at half time. England fans sang in support of Harry Maguire.

England lost 1-0 to Italy at the San Siro on Friday night in the Nations League

England lost 1-0 to Italy at the San Siro on Friday night in the Nations League

The English defender had not heard something like this for a long time. His recent career path with Manchester United has been such that he should have stopped reading reviews a long time ago.

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With your country, in general it has been different. Maguire wasn’t playing well for United before last summer’s European Championship, but he did for Gareth Southgate during the tournament.

Currently, he does not play any football for United. New manager Erik ten Hag has thrown him overboard. But Southgate remains loyal, admitting the night before this game that he has no better options, and here in Milan he was at least partially rewarded.

Harry Maguire put on a solid display at the heart of England's defense against Italy

Harry Maguire put on a solid display at the heart of England’s defense against Italy

Once again England did not play well here and their chances of winning the World Cup continue to diminish as winter approaches.

Five games without winning. Only one goal was scored, from a penalty. It’s kind of desperate in the context of what has happened before under Southgate.

But England, with Maguire in the middle of a three-man defence, conceded just one goal and it was a very good one that came practically out of nowhere.

After a rocky start, Maguire had a good night. Certainly, when Southgate assesses his team’s problems ahead of Monday’s game against Germany, the performance of his three defenders will be nowhere near the top of an ever-lengthening list.

Maguire’s early stages of the night could have been taken straight from his United low-light reel. It has been his lack of conviction and inability to make good decisions that has characterized his football when given the chance to play in the Premier League. At his best, Maguire defends confidently and relies on both instinct and discipline. But it hasn’t been like that for a long time and here he was heavy in the initial moments.

Italy right-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo was offside when he ran in just the second minute to shoot low at Nick Pope. But Maguire didn’t know this as he struggled desperately in the opponent’s wake, unable even to illegally grab the Italian’s shirt as he ran alongside him and away from him.

Minutes later Maguire was headed in the air at the far post by Gianluca Scamacca and the header deflected off the crossbar. If that opportunity had come in, Maguire might not have recovered.

As it was, despite being overtaken again by Scamacca just before the quarter hour mark, Italy gave Maguire a chance to grow in his first significant start since United fell 4-0 at Brentford in the second weekend. week of the Premier League. season.

Mancini’s Italy was poor. The local team started well but failed to maintain any kind of regular intensity. Italy’s world has fallen apart a bit since they became European champions 14 months ago and the most generous thing you could say about them here is that they seemed like a team in transition.

Still, his failure to put any kind of regular pressure on Maguire was surprising. They may not watch TV in Italy, but it was as if Mancini’s players weren’t aware of the struggles Maguire has endured recently.

It was as if they didn’t know they were playing a defender offside and out of proper playing time. Corners and set pieces, of which there were many under the supervision of an overly fussy referee, were directed aimlessly by Italy. Theoretically, everything should have fallen on Maguire’s head. But he actually did so little that Maguire was able to grow in this game.

England will have to do better than this in Qatar. They will have to be better against Germany if they are to have any chance of beating their first good side since overcoming Denmark in the Euro semi-finals. Generally speaking, there is a rather uneasy feeling that time is running out.

It could still get worse, too. He was fine playing Maguire here given that his exile at United came recently.

But if Ten Hag refuses to switch, will Southgate be able to play him in a World Cup? It seems like an exaggeration to think that. Still, the Maguire conundrum is far from England’s most pressing problem.

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