Jamie Carragher believes the alleged power struggle between Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United played a part in increasing the abuse directed at the defender.
After intially performing well with the Red Devils after an £80million transfer from Leicester, earning him the captain’s armband, the centre-back’s displays fell off.
During the 2021/22 season, it was reported Maguire and Ronaldo had clashed after Ronaldo was asked to mentor younger Manchester United players instead of the England international.
But Maguire took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to deny all reports of conflict between himself and the Portuguese legend.
“I’ve seen a lot of reports about this club that aren’t true and this is another…We’re united and focused,” he wrote.
But with Maguire already being called out by supporters for some sloppy showings, Carragher believes the rumours increased the pressure on him.
He told the Telegraph: “Manchester United fans jeered Maguire during pre-season games in 2022 and 2023. One of the most distasteful incidents of all occurred during the friendly with Borussia Dortmund in July, when new signing Andre Onana started yelling at Maguire, in my view disgracefully playing to the gallery to endear himself to United fans.
“I watched that in disbelief, but it said everything about what has gone wrong. Maguire was still the club captain then. He should have reacted furiously, put Onana in his box and demanded respect. Instead, he has the persona of someone whose confidence and authority is utterly broken.
“It was a similar story when Cristiano Ronaldo returned and reports emerged about power struggles in the United dressing room. That is when the undermining of Maguire gained momentum.”
And Carragher believes England manager Gareth Southgate needs to drop the centre-back for his own good.
He added: “For his own protection, Harry Maguire should not play for England until his career is back on track. Personally and professionally the current situation is unsustainable.
“There must be a frank and honest conversation with those closest to him about how to resolve a mess because this drama around him needs fixing.
“I was watching the England versus Scotland match with my son, James. It was painful to watch.
““If that was you, I would want you out of the firing line. This has gone too far,” I told him as Maguire endured a nightmare second half.
“My first thought after the game was that I really hope Maguire is okay. More than ever we are aware of mental-health issues impacting on footballers, or anyone subjected to such unrelenting ridicule. I cannot recall any top-level player enduring as much as Maguire over several years and struggling to find a meaningful response to it.
“I do not see how continually putting him on such a stage without regular, high-class club football will help him get back to the level he was. This has to stop, first and foremost, for Maguire’s sake.
“I like Maguire. I always have. He strikes me as a good lad and what he is suffering amounts to harassment. Maguire is being belittled.”
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