Only a strong character can recover from this, but such challenges are common over the course of a career.
Many of us who have played at the highest level have experienced moments when it feels like we are at a crossroads, knowing we need to change our mind about the kind of player we are and can become. Maguire is not the first to react negatively in his own stadium. He won’t be the last.
By the time I retired to Liverpool, people were talking fondly of The Kop singing and wishing they had ‘a team of Carraghers’. I assure you, that came much later in my career. Ten years earlier, one of my lowest points at Anfield came in a game against Fulham. The club had been associated with Steve Finnan for six months. He was seen by the supporters as the attacking fullback Liverpool needed – or more specifically an upgrade for me when I was moved from left back to right back. As Finnan ran to the Kop for a throw-in, one corner of the stadium stood up and applauded him. It felt like some of my supporters were sending a message that they wanted him on the team and me out.
Criticizing the fans is never an option. They pay their money, sit at every game and are entitled to their opinion no matter how much it hurts. As players we have to learn to accept the applause and the ridicule.
There are always two options in that situation; accept defeat and go somewhere you might feel more valued, or fight on to get the supporters back on their side.
Finnan signed the following summer and I eventually moved to central defender. It’s one of the many personal battles that I enjoy the most.
Maguire has everything it takes to make a bump on the road in recent months. I am sure that at the end of his career he will reflect on this tough experience as a critical point. How he handles it now will determine whether that revival can take place for club and country as a Manchester United player.