Rory McIlroy offers Harry Maguire support with Man Utd star in the firing line

Football Digest: Maguire gets Southgate’s support amid Man Utd woes

Rory McIlroy has shown his support for Harry Maguire after the former Manchester United skipper endured another week of public criticism. England international Maguire has come under fire following a barren run of form for the Red Devils that led to him being stripped of the United captaincy by manager Erik ten Hag before the start of the new season.

The 30-year-old also lost his place in the side and has made only one substitute appearance so far this season, but was still selected by Gareth Southgate for the Three Lions’ EURO 2024 qualifier with Ukraine and an international friendly against Scotland three days later.

He played the full 90 minutes against Ukraine but suffered the humiliation of scoring an own goal against Scotland at Hampden Park, further enabling his growing critics.

But while Maguire attempts to shrug off his latest setback, Ryder Cup star McIlroy has defended the centre-back and shown empathy with the pressure he is currently having to operate under.

Speaking ahead of this week’s DP World Tour flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, McIlroy said: “I’m sure Harry wakes up every morning, goes to work, and tries his best, just like we all do.

“When your life and career are laid bare like that and everyone sees everything…you could make 20 great passes in a game and the one pass that didn’t go quite right is the one that everyone’s going to concentrate on.

“It’s a tough world that we live in, but unfortunately it’s part of our job and being in that public spotlight. We get well rewarded for being in that public spotlight. That’s the way it is.

“I do things that shield me from that, and it certainly protects my mental health. I think more and more sportspeople are getting to the point where they’re doing the same thing.”

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McIlory will be under huge pressure himself in two weeks’ time when he will try to help Europe regain the Ryder Cup from the United States at Rome’s Marco Simone Club & Country Club.

The Americans won the 43rd edition of the biannual match-play competition by a record 19-9 margin at Whistling Straits two years ago. As a result, the expectations on the European team to perform significantly better and try to wrestle back the trophy are sky-high.

World No. 2 McIlroy suffered his own in-game meltdown at the Irish Open last week when, whilst still in contention for the title, he triple-bogeyed the 16th hole after twice finding the water. He ended up finishing 16th.

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