England ‘darling’ Harry Maguire is only actually guilty of two things: ‘folly’ and believing ‘he can have a normal night out’.
Henry the faith
It took until the fourth paragraph of Henry Winter’s lionisation of Harry Maguire for Mediawatch to have to stop and remember this was a Times column written about a man found guilty on four counts in a Greek court mere hours earlier.
‘Those with any familiarity with Greek tragedy will recall the story of Achilles, who avoided the fighting until a loved one was injured and his subsequent actions ultimately caused his own downfall. Few will wish to paint Maguire in a heroic light, although his desire to protect Daisy, whom his legal team claimed was attacked by Albanian gangsters, is admirable and typical of the man.’
It’s not quite The Sun‘s ‘HARRY COMES ACROPOLIS’ front-page headline when it comes to crowbarred references to Greece, but suggesting ‘few will wish to paint Maguire in a heroic light’ in a point about a literal war hero and legendary warrior, while calling him ‘admirable’ and saying such courageous acts are ‘typical of the man’, is glorious.
Maybe don’t mention Achilles if you want to argue that ‘few will wish to paint Maguire in a heroic light’.
Mind you, ‘at the very least, and pending any new evidence provided during the resumption of the legal process, Maguire is guilty of folly’.
And repeated bodily harm. And attempted bribery. And violence against public employees. And insult. But mainly ‘folly’. He has been given a suspended 21 month and ten-day prison sentence for ‘folly’. It really does seem so very harsh.
The man ‘simply wanted to walk public byways, being the grounded, engaging soul he has always been,’ which is up there with the defence of being “keen on the ancient Greek culture” while helping rack up a reported £63,000 bar bill.
Winter does say that such claims of a ‘toxic tab’ should be ‘dismissed’ because Maguire ‘is not flash’. Which is alright then.
From that to the descriptions of ‘a truly likeable individual’, the ‘darling of England’, a man ‘brimming with good intent’, who has a ‘desire to live a normal life’ as ‘one of English football’s most respected players’ and someone whose ‘work helping out the vulnerable during lockdown is well known’, it really does seem as though he is the victim after all. Maguire’s only crime was that ‘hitherto reliable judgment went awry one steaming evening’. And ‘folly’. And that other stuff of which he has been found guilty in a court of law.
Oh, you’re so naive, yet so
Gareth Southgate shouldn’t have named Maguire in his England squad. That much is obvious. The announcement should have been delayed until the trial’s conclusion to save the embarrassing volte-face that followed hours later.
Winter is right to make that point. But this line is remarkable:
‘It is difficult to know who has been more naive here, Maguire or Southgate.’
That truly is a conundrum.
Then to the final paragraph:
‘Southgate needed more balance, more thought, just like Maguire.’
What also ‘needed more balance’ is a column that equates the actions of a footballer who was arrested on holiday abroad and found guilty of four separate charges, to the manager whose only mistake was to not wait a little longer before making a public decision, likely based on the information given to him by said player and his club.
Only one of those things is at least vaguely criminal. Until and unless Maguire succeeds on appeal, let’s not pretend otherwise.
Mistakes, he made a few
On the other hand, why not plough ahead and continue to insist Maguire is the innocent party? Over to Sam Wallace of the Daily Telegraph for this one:
‘Harry Maguire’s Mykonos nightmare is the result of a famous footballer trying to have a normal night out’
This should be fun.
‘If anything, it does once again ask the question of the weird lives that Premier League footballers are obliged to live, part by choice but also by circumstance. Many of them will see Maguire’s situation as further evidence that they have no alternative but to retreat behind the velvet ropes of the VIP section where the bottles of Grey Goose vodka cost more than the annual insurance premium on a family saloon. That they can try to live the same life as their non-footballer peers, in the same bars, on the same days out, but the risk is too great.’
Many a Premier League footballer has managed to enjoy an ‘ordinary’ night out, to ‘try to live the same life as their non-footballer peers’, without being arrested and charged as a result. How unfortunate of Maguire to give it a try, only for all this to happen. That’s some sh*t luck.
What follows is a mention of Dele Alli suffering a burglary at his own home and Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac almost being carjacked at knifepoint in London. Quite why is a mystery. They were victims of crimes. Maguire, as of Wednesday morning, has been found to be the opposite in a court of law.
‘Maguire and his Mykonos party may have made some mistakes on this ill-fated night – even if they are on nothing like the scale the Greek courts have decided. But when the dust settles they may decide that the greatest of them all was to suppose that a famous footballer can assume that he can have a normal night out most would take for granted.’
It was just ‘a normal night out’. We really have all been there, spending thousands of pounds in one go at bars in Mykonos. It’s time to add that to his rap sheet, right next to ‘folly’.
Completing the hat-trick of prominent journalists going as far as they can to absolve Maguire of blame is Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail. It’s almost as if they have all been promised an exclusive interview by former colleague and Manchester United PR adviser Neil Ashton.
‘There is nobody in English football – save the odd supporter of a rival club – who will not wish Maguire to be exonerated.’
You appear to have missed ‘if he is found innocent’ off the end of that sentence. How unfortunate.
‘Harry Maguire sends cryptic ‘truth’ Instagram message after guilty verdict’ – Daily Star.
‘Manchester United captain Harry Maguire sends cryptic message after guilty verdict’ – Manchester Evening News.
‘Harry Maguire shares cryptic quote about ‘the truth’ after being found guilty following Greek trial’ – Manchester Evening News.
Yes. They did two versions of the story. That’s how cryptic the following message is:
— Anthony Hay (@Anthony_Hay) August 25, 2020
It’s a real head-scratcher.
Kyle high club
How strange that Kyle Walker found his way into the latest England squad when the Daily Star reported on April 6 that his ‘England career is over at the age of just 29’.
‘The Manchester City star will never be picked for the Three Lions again while Gareth Southgate is boss – after hammering the final nail in his international coffin himself.’
Jeremy Cross will presumably be along shortly with the similarly EXCLUSIVE explanation.
Hit the road, Jack
One player not selected was Jack Grealish. Predictably. But he didn’t take it so well himself.
‘Jack Grealish seems to have been left fuming by Gareth Southgate’s decision to omit him from the latest England squad yet again,’ say the Daily Mirror.
It’s quite impressive that they could decipher his mood from a single ‘liked’ tweet about Kalvin Phillips.
Ex-Man Utd star collapses screaming and pointing to chest during friendlyhttps://t.co/bLtL9qCZvC
— Daily Star Sport (@DailyStar_Sport) August 25, 2020
Tweet of the day
— Glasgow Live Sport (@GLiveSport) August 25, 2020