Harry Maguire and Adam Idah have experienced international breaks at totally polarised ends of the footballing spectrum. 

For Maguire, an unfortunate – albeit rusty-looking – own goal at a hostile Hampden Park compounded further misery on the misfiring Manchester United defender and intensified the social media pile-on towards one of Gareth Southgate’s most trusted England servants. 

But for Idah, an emphatic early penalty against the Netherlands and all-round barnstorming Dublin display catapulted the Norwich City and Ireland striker’s reputation to greater, now seemingly Carrow Road-transcending, heights. 

Idah proved a constant thorn in the European heavyweights – and, most eye-catchingly, Virgil van Dijk’s – side in the Irish capital, banishing his Parisian demons from three days earlier where, having purchased a copy during a Rugby World Cup-fuelled trip to Marseille over the weekend, I discovered he was slapped with a brutal three-out-of-ten rating by famous French sports newspaper L'Équipe after Ireland’s 2-0 defeat at Parc des Princes. 

But while Maguire and Idah have been through contrasting weeks on football’s unforgiving weekly treadmill, there’s one thing they both have in common – they’re both players fans love to take aim at and scapegoat. 

The treatment of Maguire – by England, Manchester United ‘supporters’ and beyond – has reached its unedifying crescendo in recent weeks, a player once so revered by the English footballing public but now, after a series of admittedly sub-par and occasionally comical defensive displays, being reduced to nothing more than a meme and convenient punchbag for fickle fans to hit out at. 

Let’s not forget – this is a player who helped successfully steer England to a World Cup semi-final, grabbing a knockout stage goal in the process and then playing a similarly crucial role in the side that reached a first major final since 1966. 

Of course, he’s made some high-profile mistakes in a struggling United team in recent years – although which of their players hasn’t? – been frozen out by Erik ten Hag and, after failing to secure a move to West Ham this summer, now finds his career at a crossroads. 

But does a player who has functioned as such a pivotal protagonist in the most successful England side since the days of Sir Alf Ramsey, continues to resiliently turn out for his country – delivering a defiant, solid display against Ukraine in Wroclaw – and then admirably face the media afterwards really deserve such virulent levels of abuse from keyboard warriors, pundits and ‘fans’? 

And speaking of ‘fans’, it’s worth noting that those loyal England supporters who follow Southgate’s side home and away continued to sing Maguire’s name in the heat of the Hampden cauldron, a revealing deviation from the attitudes of those who love to sit at home, sneer and tweet a barrage of abuse. 

The Pink Un: Harry Maguire was constantly jeered during England's win over Scotland

Maguire’s impressive career may now well have embarked on a terminally downwards trajectory but for in-form Idah, a player eight years younger and at the opposite end of his footballing journey, it’s been a similarly unsavoury story in recent times. 

Mirroring Maguire, a cursory glance at social media can reveal the grim extent of Idah’s hostile treatment over the last couple of years, a trend that has even manifested itself at matches when he enters the Carrow Road fray. 

Prior to his dramatic opening day winner against Hull, several groans and complaints around me were audible when Idah was introduced as a second-half substitute so, as a fan who has recognised his broader impact over the past two seasons – when considering minutes played, his goalscoring record is also not as bad as it looks – it served as an even greater source of satisfaction when he triggered that late, Liam Rosenior-infuriating ecstasy to put two fingers up to all those who wrote him off. 

Some fans just love to moan and, in the case of both Maguire and Idah, either fickly forget about the past or alternatively, neglect what may happen in the future and refuse to get behind a player to help them reach their potential.  

They’ve had polarised weeks and are at opposite ends of their careers – but perhaps what Maguire and Idah have in common should teach fans to quit the unnecessary snarling, remain more level-headed and get better at remembering either their players’ former glories or ability to work hard and improve.