Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw both started England’s 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday and the pair experienced polarising evenings as the Three Lions’ ended the group at the foot of the standings.
Maguire has faced heavy criticism for the best part of 12 months and although Shaw has not faced as intense scrutiny, he has also been questioned.
Against Germany, it was Maguire who endured a tough game after he gave away a second-half penalty. Moments after, Germany scored after the United captain lost the ball.
Speaking after scoring England’s first goal on the night, Shaw defended his team-mate by insisting that people need to accept that Maguire is a ‘big part’ of the England setup.
“Harry is an amazing player, an amazing character,” Shaw is quoted as saying by the BBC. “He’s taken a lot of stick – probably more than I’ve ever seen before in football.
“He never hides away, he’s always there. You can have people who can hide away and not want to be in the spotlight. He keeps putting himself in the spotlight, it shows the strength and character he’s got.
“Everybody knows he’s an unbelievable player. At the moment the confidence might not be there because it could feel like the whole world is against him.
“It’s tough for him, but us as players and staff are all behind him because he’s a very important player. It shows Gareth’s trust because he’s played in both games [this week] – and look at the Euros what he’s done.
“People need to understand he’s a big part of the England team and have to accept it.”
The criticism Maguire is facing, which often borders on bullying, has gotten out of hand and Shaw is doing the right thing by standing up for his team-mate. It shows unity.
A year ago, neither of these players could put a foot wrong for their club or country – that’s how quickly things changes in football.
Maguire and Shaw both have a long way to regain their places at Old Trafford but they’re still integral players for Gareth Southgate’s England side.