Harry Maguire

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says it is down to Harry Maguire to silence the boo boys and prove his worth by performing well during the 2022-2023 campaign.

Maguire, who has retained the United captaincy under the Dutch manager, was jeered by supporters when the Red Devils beat Crystal Palace at the MCG in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

It has raised concerns that the 29-year-old defender could become a target after he was booed by England fans at Wembley in March.

But having decided to keep Maguire as the club captain this season, Ten Hag has backed his skipper to come through a difficult period in his career if he performs well.

The crowd’s treatment of Maguire seemed to calm down in the second half in Melbourne, and Ten Hag said: ‘We heard but you see, if you perform, it slows down. I think the team and Harry Maguire impressed by the way we play.

‘I don’t think it’s the manner to find out if I understand it. It’s about how can we change it. So it’s the team and Harry himself by performing. That is what we’re working on, that is the only focus.’

Maguire is set to lead United in Saturday’s final tour game against Aston Villa in Perth as Ten Hag’s side look to sign off with a fourth straight win.

‘We have the intention to play brilliant football, only one thing: we have an opponent every time – and they don’t cooperate,’ added the United boss.

‘So first it’s about our philosophy. We want to play proactive football, attacking football. I know the opponent for tomorrow will be tough – it is great test. In that sense Perth is really lucky.’

Tuesday’s game against Crystal Palace was not the first time Maguire has had to deal with booing. He has also experienced the same frosty reception while playing on the international stage.

Maguire was booed before and during England’s 3-0 win over the Ivory Coast in March. A section of Three Lions fans jeered the defender’s name when it was read out ahead of the game at Wembley.

They continued to boo the Manchester United captain as he took his first few touches of the game.

England manager Gareth Southgate was furious with the country’s fans and jumped to Maguire’s defence after their victory.

He said: ‘I thought the reception was a joke, an absolute joke. The way he has performed for us has been absolutely phenomenal. I don’t get it. We’re either all in this together or we’re not.

‘He’s in an England shirt and not only should you support a player in an England shirt regardless, but when you’ve played at the level he has for us and put the performances in he has, it should be total commitment behind him. I don’t get it at all.

‘His performance was pretty faultless really. He stepped out from the back really well for the first goal, was involved in the second one too. So, yeah. The team are totally united. We recognise everyone has difficult moments but he’s a top player and he will come through it.

‘They are real England fans and some are influenced by whatever – social media or players that played previously who are influencing opinion. The club situation is obviously very difficult but he’s in an England shirt.

‘I remember decades ago a few players being booed in an England shirt and it’s never been acceptable to me. Fans should always get behind their team.’

Donny van de Beek also praised Maguire for how he dealt with the boos on Tuesday – claiming his ‘big personality’ meant he was able to shake off the criticism.

Van de Beek said: ‘He [Maguire] was aggressive, he got so many balls, so that means he has a big personality. He has a lot of experience, so I think that’s positive what he [showed], his performance today.’

The fan’s decision to boo Maguire came as a result of the defender’s torrid 2021-22 season. The England international anchored a United defence that shipped 57 goals in the Premier League last season, four more than Burnley, who got relegated.

That led to some fans calling for Maguire to be stripped of the captaincy. However, Ten Hag decided to stick by the England defender.

As a result, fans have decided to air their thoughts by booing the 29-year-old before and during their pre-season games.

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