Sterling and Gomez apparently had a brief altercation in a private team area, which is believed to have come from City’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday, and the FA have announced Sterling’s removal from the team “as a result of a disturbance in a private team area.”
Sterling later took to Instagram to state he was involved in a 5-10 second thing with Gomez, but that they were good and have moved on.
Manager Gareth Southgate said “We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday. My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken.” Southgate has said on previous occasions how the England setup have worked on defusing club rivalries, because it has been a problem with England in the past, but it has not been known for him to take action against any player, so why the sudden change?
His actions have also been criticised by former players such as Rio Ferdinand, who said the situation could have been handled better. Writing on his Facebook page, Ferdinand has suggested Southgate “would no doubt have seen worse many times during his time as a player and manager. I just feel this could and should have been handled better to support the player and not hang him out to dry.
“One of our world-class players who has conducted himself wonderfully through racism and unwarranted criticism in an England shirt will now come under more scrutiny and be vilified in the media no doubt - when this could have been dealt with internally.”
No doubt the media will focus on Sterling’s absence, and the manager has now set the City man up for more abuse and vilification from the media that has continually hounded him in the past, with negative headlines which inspired abuse.
After coming under fire following England’s World Cup campaign in 2018, Sterling brushed aside the criticism and has forced his way to become a regular starter for the national side. But I can’t help but feel that the England manager has decided to make a public example of the City winger, for something that could have been dealt with privately and carefully. The striker has been in great form for England, but now they have excluded their best player.
What do you think? Should Sterling have been excluded from the England team, or was Southgate justified?