England’s disappointing defeat in the Czech Republic could have been down to a number of players heading into the international break in poor club form, according to Harry Maguire.
The Three Lions missed the chance to seal qualification for Euro 2020 after slipping to a 2-1 loss in Prague as another poor defensive display allowed the hosts to fight from a goal down to take the points.
Maguire, who became the world’s most expensive defender when he left Leicester for Manchester United for £80million in the summer, has been unable to help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men end a run of poor form which has left the Red Devils 12th in the Premier League.
He was once again paired alongside Everton’s Michael Keane at the heart of England’s defence, with the Toffees enduring an even more painful start to the campaign that has seen Marco Silva’s side lose five of their opening eight games.
Add the fact that Gareth Southgate selected Danny Rose at left-back despite an indifferent run of form at Tottenham and the defence on show at the Sinobo Stadium was not exactly brimming with self-belief.
Asked if there was a lack of confidence among the back-line Maguire replied: “Yes, maybe.
“We bring our club football into international level. It was a difficult game. Don’t get me wrong, we started sloppy. We took the lead in the game but we didn’t deserve to.
“The second half we controlled the game a lot more than the first half but we gave them a sloppy goal to win the game. We do need to improve on that.
“Obviously you are wanting to develop partnerships. Sometimes in international level you can’t really do that.
“You have players who aren’t playing for their clubs so they don’t get selected, and you have players that pick up injuries.
“You’ve got to adapt. That’s one of the tricky parts of playing international football, every camp you’re normally playing alongside different players – you don’t want to be – and need to develop new partnerships.
“But listen, there’s no excuses. We need to be better than Friday night. We need to be better going forward. We need to be better on the ball. And we certainly need to be better at keeping the ball out of the net.”
While admitting the performance was not up to task, Maguire refuted claims the defence has been poor in recent England internationals – despite looking shaky in a 5-3 win over Kosovo last month and gifting Holland goals in the 3-1 Nations League semi-final defeat at the start of the summer.
“This ‘run of shipping goals’ I don’t know where it’s come from apart from the Kosovo game,” he said when asked if Southgate had addressed any defensive shortcomings.
“We were 5-1 up in the game and obviously we’d made a mistake early on in giving them a goal. But we were 5-1 up and maybe we took our foot off the gas and have to learn from that.
“We’ve conceded two on Friday and previous to that we’ve not conceded numerous goals so I don’t know where it (the claim they are ‘shipping goals’) has come from apart from the last couple of games.
“We will work hard and try and improve. But shipping lots and lots of goals over the last couple of years we haven’t done.
“It just shows us that we’ve still a lot of work to go. We’re still in a strong position in the group and now we have got to finish the job off.
“We do need to nullify little areas to take into the Euros because if we do manage to qualify, we have to nullify these mistakes.”