Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw show how Manchester United and England relationship has changed

Man Utd players Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw have played an important role in England's run to the European Championship final.

The relationship between Manchester United and the England team has rarely been a straightforward one, on or off the pitch.

England's tournament travails have usually been met with a shrug of the shoulders in Manchester, for many reasons. The mostly southern, small-club nature of England's support was a mile away from the culture of United fans - and Liverpool for that matter - and there was little to be found in common. A United away day in Europe was a stark contrast to the jingoistic nature of an England away day.

The success of those teams made following England an irrelevance as well, but for United fans the 1990s were the time when the disconnect with the national team was greater than ever, even if it had existed before then. This was a time when Sir Alex Ferguson's side were dominant domestically, but when their players met up with England Wembley would often reverberate to the strains of 'stand up if you hate Man U'.

So instead United fans embraced other countries. Argentina would be chanted at Old Trafford and while the rest of the country vilified David Beckham after his sending-off in France in 1998, United fans staunchly defended him. When Ronaldo winked England out of the World Cup in 2006 it bought laughter amongst United fans, even if the recipient was also one of their own, in Wayne Rooney.

As Gary Neville wrote in his autobiography, Red: "There was all the anti-United stuff, all those idiots singing 'Stand up if you hate Man U' even when we played for England. We'd all had it at Wembley since we'd started playing for our country."

This was a time when the toxicity of club rivalries seeped into England meet-ups as well. Several players from the 'Golden Generation' have spoken of how they would sit at tables along club lines and couldn't separate the animosity from United v Liverpool or United v Arsenal when it came to trying to be on the same page.

On the pitch there's often been a theory that a strong United should lead to a strong England, given this is the biggest club in the country, but it's rarely worked out that way. No United player started the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup or Euro 96. When England next reached the last four of a knockout tournament three years ago Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young were starters, but it's difficult to make a case that they were representing a strong United.

It's just over two years since England had a squad for a competitive game that featured no United players, although injury played its part, and somehow it's less than four weeks since Gareth Southgate's side kicked off Euro 2020 without a single United player in the starting line-up. Now two of them seem destined for the team of the tournament in Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.

And maybe times are changing. United fans might never truly embrace the national team, but the atmosphere has shifted. It was noticeable in the semi-final win against Denmark that the loudest chant for any player was for Maguire, who has a song for his country ahead of his club. Maguire and Shaw have been immense in the knockout stages and rather than 'stand up if you hate Man U', the rest of the country has embraced them.

This is an England team that is easy to like. Marcus Rashford is a national hero for his actions over the previous 18 months, admired by fans of every club. Raheem Sterling's work on and off the pitch has drawn admiration from United fans over the past month. Club rivalries have been set aside, as Sterling and Rashford showed with their heart-warming social media posts as they enjoyed a recovery session in a jacuzzi.

While international football so often looked like a chore for the generation of Neville and Paul Scholes, it looks like Maguire, Shaw, Rashford and the rest are relishing it. Maguire and Shaw have managed to transfer their United form to the international stage and Rashford has linked up with England for this tournament despite playing through the pain barrier for most of this season. He wanted to be a part of it.

It's one of Southgate's great triumphs to have turned the national team into Club England, but the players also deserve credit for being a likeable, humble, relatable team. So relatable that one of the most popular players represents United. It might take more than that to win over the Old Trafford regulars, but it's a sign of how times have changed.