Gareth Southgate lifts lid on why England made Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez row public | Football | Sport
Gareth Southgate explains England row between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez
Gareth Southgate has defended the decision to publicly announce that Raheem Sterling will not be considered for selection when England take on Montenegro on Thursday night and insists he is impressed with how his squad have dealt with the incident.
Sterling and Joe Gomez were involved in an angry confrontation in the Three Lions’ canteen at their St George’s Park training base on Monday, which was described by the FA as “a disturbance in a private team area”.
Manchester City forward Sterling confirmed on Instagram that the incident was merely “a five to 10 second thing” and played down any lasting repercussions.
The 24-year-old is thought to have been angry with Gomez after an on-field dispute during Liverpool‘s 3-1 Premier League win over City at Anfield on Sunday.
During that match, Gomez picked Sterling up and pushed him away, and the City man is believed to have remained irked the following day when Southgate’s England squad met up.
Some reports have indicated that Sterling grabbed Gomez, who joined Liverpool the same summer his compatriot left for Manchester, by the throat and pictures of the England players training on Tuesday showed Gomez sporting a scratch below his right eye which is believed to have come from the fracas.
As a result, Sterling – who has since apologised – will not face Montenegro at Wembley in England’s 1,000th international match, as the Three Lions look to claim the point that will secure their spot at Euro 2020 next summer.
Speaking at a press conference to address the incident on Tuesday, Southgate said: “I wouldn’t normally speak at this stage but there have been statements coming out of our camp it is important to speak publicly about this so that the players don’t need to deal with that moving forward.
“I think I’m dealing with a very young squad and we’re in a sport where emotions often run high.
“Raheem in his post last night explained that for a very brief moment, his emotions ran over. It would be correct to say that was not the same for Joe. These things happen in football.
Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez clashed during Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Man City
Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez trained with England as normal on Tuesday morning
“Then you have to find a way for the group to move forward. That needed some time, it needed the emotions to calm down.
“We have some excellent senior players who have played a part in keeping everything together and we needed a manager to see that the group are prepared to work together moving forward, that everybody’s comfortable with that, that everybody’s in the right place.
“My priority is always the care and wellbeing of all of my players. All of my players. Then, you have a decision to make as to whether there needs to be further which is the right thing for the group moving forward, which is my reason for not selecting Raheem for the game Thursday.”
And Southgate insists England are right to have made the incident public, insisting he would have had to address it at some point this week regardless.
He added: “In regards to whether that should be made public or not, when you’ve made a decision like that, it’s going to be public Wednesday or Thursday anyway. I’d have to deal with it then, I’d rather deal with it now, so we can all focus on the game. The decision has been made. We move forward.
“The reality is that I’m not prepared to go into detail. There is enough conjecture and opinion and talk out there, we don’t need to add to that. We’ve dealt with this as a group, we’re in agreement on that and we move forward from that.
Gareth Southgate addressed the controversy on Tuesday afternoon
Gomez sported a scratch below his right eye on Tuesday
“We have to keep as much as we can to ourselves. We are a team. I understand our profile and the insatiable interest in our camp which we have to be aware of. That’s the reality of why things become public which would not happen at a club.
“It’s important to always be as fair as possible as I can be when I make a decision, whether that’s a senior player or a junior player.
“A number of our senior players have been active in our discussions, certainly yesterday. I wanted to get a feel for how the group are but I am the manager and there are decisions which are my responsibility and that I’m prepared to take.
“The decision has been made not to consider Raheem for the game on Thursday. That’s the end of the matter for me.
“The priority for me is to keep the group together if possible and as emotions calmed yesterday, that was clearly a possibility. I’m very impressed with the players, the way they worked it through collectively. They have been mature.
“In the end I’m the manager and I’ve made a decision that I think was appropriate for how we want to move forward.
“I consult very closely with all of the players and in particular my senior players and they have a very good understanding of the way we’ve worked over the last couple of years, that has brought us a lot of togetherness, which is still there.
Sterling and Gomez were briefly Liverpool team-mates
Sterling was seemingly still unhappy with his altercation on the pitch with Gomez the following day
“Now we have to turn our attention to the football, which we have done. We’ve got a hugely important qualifier to qualify for a European Championships. That is why I am speaking now on this, and I can draw a line under this.
“I love all of my players, we’re like a family and all families have disagreements. The most important thing is you communicate through those disagreements.
“I don’t expect, as a manager, to never have to deal with things that are difficult or unexpected. That’s part and parcel of the job.
“In my view, the group are moving forward. There seems to be all sorts of information being passed form all different areas.
“Team getting out, information getting out, there seems to be so much information in the background.
“Every player has had an opportunity to speak to me if they want to, and my view is that the group is ready to move forwards.”
Gareth Southgate is satisfied the matter is dealt with
In his Instagram post on Monday night, Sterling insists he and Gomez – who has accepted his apology – have moved on from the drama.
He said: “First and foremost everyone knows what that game means to me!
“Everyone knows that I am not that way inclined and more to the point, both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on.
“We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me.
“We move [on], this is why we play this sport because of our love for it.
“Me and @joegomez5 are good we both understand it was a 5-10 second thing it’s done we move forward and not make this bigger than it is.
“Let’s get focus on our game on Thursday.”