|HARRY’S GAME: England defender Harry Maguire was booed by a section of supporters during Wednesday’s friendly against Ivory Coast. AFP Photo|
When Nguyễn Thanh Bình put Việt Nam one goal up against Japan midweek, I found myself punching the air in delight as I watched the game in a busy bia hơi pub.
Even though deep down I knew Japan would probably equalise, for a moment I felt a strange sense of pride in the national team. It was an odd sensation, and one I’ve rarely felt before.
On Wednesday, England played the Ivory Coast and to be honest, I didn’t even know the match was taking place. It was only after scrolling through social media the next day I realised England had played, and won.
Score aside, the main talking point from the friendly match played at Wembley was the abuse given to Harry Maguire – from his own supporters.
This for me sums up why I’m not that bothered about my own national team.
And yes, before you start hurling abuse at me, I totally understand that it is not all England supporters, and certainly not everyone that was in the ground to cheer on the team. But it was many.
Maguire isn’t having the best of times right now on the pitch. He’s made mistakes for Manchester United at club level, and he’s clearly lacking in confidence.
I don’t think his cause was aided by the hefty price tag United paid for Maguire when they signed him from Leicester, but it wasn’t the player who demanded the fee.
But when he pulls on his England shirt, club rivalry should go out the window. Now, more than ever, he needs the backing of the fans, not their boos.
His fellow England players have rightly condemned the behaviour, and manager Gareth Southgate called it an absolute joke, adding: “I don't get it. We're either all in this together or we're not.”
This really isn’t anything new. After David Beckham was sent off against Argentina in 1998, effectively ending England’s chances of reaching the World Cup semi-finals, he became public enemy number one.
Effigies of him were hung at grounds across the country and he took a phenomenal amount of abuse at games the following season.
And cast your minds back to the final of the Euros when England lost on a penalty shoot out to Italy.
In the days that followed, those players who missed their spot kicks were subjected to a torrent of racial abuse on social media pages.
England are a good team, and under Southgate have performed to a level never seen before from a national side.
They reached the semis of the last World Cup, and have to be considered one of the favourites for the tournament in Qatar later this year.
Of course I want them to do well, and I will be happy if they do win the tournament, but honestly speaking, I won’t be that bothered if they don’t. VNS