LONDON (AFP) – Gareth Southgate warned England to learn from their disciplinary woes after giving Harry Maguire his “full support” following the Manchester United defender’s dismissal in yesterday’s 1-0 defeat against Denmark.
Southgate’s side suffered their first defeat for a year as Maguire was sent off for two first half bookings before Christian Eriksen’s penalty sealed the Nations League points for Denmark.
Adding to the growing sense that Southgate is struggling to keep his players under control, Chelsea right-back Reece James marred his first England start when he was sent off after the final whistle for confronting referee Jesus Gil.
Following hot on the heels of Kyle Walker’s dismissal against Iceland in September, England have had three players sent off in a calendar year for the first time.
The rash of red cards comes amid off-field issues in which England players have shown questionable judgement this year.
Maguire was given a suspended sentence of 21 months and 10 days in prison after being found guilty of repeated bodily harm, attempted bribery and violence against public employees on the Greek island of Mykonos in August.
The conviction was nullified after he appealed, but the 27-year-old’s incident was followed by Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood being sent home from Iceland after breaching coronavirus protocols.
Tammy Abraham, Jadon Sancho and Ben Chilwell missed last week’s friendly against Wales after ignoring social distancing rules to attend a party.
It is an alarming sequence and Southgate conceded England’s players had only themselves to blame.
“It’s an obvious question we’re going to be asked. We’ve put ourselves in unnecessary positions off the pitch,” he said.
“Of course there have been things that haven’t been right. We have addressed them.
“The reds for Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire here, one yellow justified, one not so sure. We’ve got to learn from it because if you go down to 10, historically that means we’re out, especially if you’re doing it for an hour.
“We talked all the time about discipline because we knew it cost us in other tournaments.”
Maguire’s needless red card extended a woeful start to the season for the centre-back and put England on course for their first home defeat since 2018.
Despite Maguire’s latest meltdown, Southgate made it clear the United captain could count on his backing. “For me he is a top player, a massive part of what we do and he is going through a period where a lot of stick is coming his way,” Southgate said.
“He has our full support and I know his club will be the same. We have total belief in him.
“He has been getting all sorts for a while from people who should know better.”
Insisting Maguire would not be phased by his troubles, Southgate added, “None of us want to be part of that storm. His profile has changed over the last couple of years because of the club he plays at.
“He is having one of those periods where things are going against him but things will turn.”
On James’ rush of blood, Southgate said, “That’s a lesson he’s got to learn. It’s ended up something that shouldn’t have happened but for the overall week he’s made a positive impression.”