The comments came after Maguire returned from international duty with an injury and watched United’s thumping by rivals City from the sidelines.
Speaking on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports, Neville said, “It’s tough for him at the moment,” whilst Jamie Carragher added, “The criticism he gets, I think is a bit over the top, I think it’s bullying certainly on social media.”
Carragher referred to Neville’s comments that he had seen a psychologist in his career and pushed him on how he thought that could benefit Maguire.
“I made two mistakes in a World Club Championships. You remember when we missed the FA Cup after the treble, there was a massive noise because we’d missed the FA Cup and people weren’t happy. Then we went over to Brazil and I made two horrific mistakes,” Neville reflects.
The game Neville was referring to was United’s 3-1 defeat to Vasco Da Gama in which Neville gifted the opposition two goals from back-passes that had gone wrong.
“I went from being on top of the world coming out of the treble, in unbelievable form and then I felt under massive pressure to the point where the next four or five months, I was shocking. I didn’t want the ball, I was hiding in games, being subbed in the Champions League.”
He continued, “Other things in your private life don’t go quite as well and you have a lot going on and I remember saying to our doctor at United, ‘I just need to see someone.'”
Neville only opened up about this after his playing career had ended but he had six or seven sessions to talk things over and find coping mechanisms.
“I think perspective is a really important thing as a football player. Questions that you ask yourself like, did you expect that you wouldn’t have a bad game? Did you think as a defender you wouldn’t make mistakes? Did you think that every game you would win?”
“You ask yourself those questions and in a long career like Harry Maguire is going to have, you’re going to have bad moments. You need perspective and coping mechanisms and that’s all that psychiatrist did to me, he helped me ask those simple questions.”
“I think Harry’s got to that point now where he needs to seek some solice away from football because speaking to your teammates and your coaches about this is not easy.”
Neville went on to highlight the fellow United players who have received a similar level of criticism as Maguire in recent history, showing how the centre back is not alone.
“You think about the players who have trodden that path before him; David Beckham post 98 where the whole country was absolutely battering him and he had to come back and face that, you think of my brother in 2000 when he gave that penalty away and he was having effigies burned outside his house, you think of Rooney in 2006 when he got sent off against Ronaldo – these are all Manchester United players – Marcus Rashford in 2021 when he missed the penalty and was racially abused.”
“He’s not alone here, he’s not the first person to feel his form’s gone, to be vilified or picked on. That’s how you feel at the time, that it’s only you. But if he can somehow look at what’s gone before.”
The United legend concludes on a positive note, “I hope in the next five or ten years he’ll look back and think, that was the making of me. Because once you come through that moment of six months, eight months, 12 months, you don’t go back there because your resilience, your mental strength is developed.”
Maguire will be hoping to find his fitness and form and be given a chance to start in United’s upcoming games so he can be considered in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad later this year.
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