Firstly, why was Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez’s bust-up made public? Why has someone put this out there when it’s obvious it would disrupt England’s preparations for the upcoming games?
Secondly, I would have dealt with the ‘throat grab’ differently. The pair should have had their heads banged together at St George’s Park and told:
You had your rivalry at the weekend, now you’re on the same team representing your country. Grow up. Deal with it. Move on.
Tempers flare all the time during training – there’s never 100% harmony. It’s the same in every workforce. People fall out in offices, in factories, in lorry cabs… you have to get on with it, you can’t just send someone home. The best way to deal with a situation is quickly and ensure it’s forgotten quickly. That won’t happen now.
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There’s always needle in training. Someone goes in a little strong on a team-mate who doesn’t like being tackled, or someone takes a remark personally, and they square up. It used to happen all the time during my playing career, then afterwards you would take the p*** in the dressing room because someone screamed like a baby. You laugh, you joke, you shrug, you move on.
Joe Gomez, Raheem Sterling
Image credit: Getty Images
So sure, give Sterling an earful. Question his attitude. Ask whether he wants to step back into kindergarten. But deal with it internally, then still play him against Montenegro and let him prove to his team-mates that he made a childish mistake.
What’s the point of him sitting around in the squad, then coming out of the cupboard for the trip to Kosovo next week? Is he really going to be fussed about missing a game, when he will probably go on and win well over 100 caps? Dropping him just lets the saga fester.
Not that I have any sympathy with Sterling. He knew what he was doing and he’s got to accept the consequences. If you can’t control your temperament and emotions, it’s a massive problem. Particularly when it concerns a match in November and the season ends in May.
Southgate defends decision to drop Sterling after Gomez fallout
I’ve heard reports that the dressing room is unhappy with Gareth Southgate. Has someone wandered around the dressing room conducting a poll? A manager can’t please everyone. I don’t necessarily agree with Southgate’s decision, and neither will every player, but there’s not a chance that everyone is in disagreement – there’s a chance Gomez’s Liverpool teammates think the punishment isn't strong enough.
At the end of the day, Southgate’s made his decision and everyone should move on. Football is a team game, it’s not about Sterling or Gomez. Let’s focus on the game on Thursday.
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Paul Parker - @realpaulparker2