LONDON (REUTERS) - England manager Gareth Southgate slammed some of the national team's fans for booing Harry Maguire during a 3-0 win over Ivory Coast on Tuesday (March 29), saying the defender would be key to England's World Cup campaign later this year.
Maguire has come under criticism for his performances for his English Premier League club Manchester United, which has spilt over into discontent among some England fans too.
There were boos when his name was announced at Wembley Stadium before the kick-off against Ivory Coast and when he made his first touches.
"I don't understand how it benefits anybody because we are either all in it together or we're not," Southgate told reporters.
"I would imagine if you asked a few actually why were they doing that, they might not even be able to answer that because it becomes a mob mentality."
He warned that the hounding of Maguire could make other players fear that they might be next and less willing to represent their country, saying former England players John Barnes and Ashley Cole underwent similar treatment, as had Raheem Sterling, now one of England's most outstanding players.
Southgate lauded Maguire's performance on Tuesday and said he needed to be playing well for England to have a chance at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
"We're not going to win a World Cup with a load of players that have got three or four caps. That's not happened in the history of the game," he said.
"He's top quality and in my opinion he's the best centre-back at his club as well," Southgate said. "It's ludicrous. It's almost like every time he steps on a football pitch every action is analysed to death."