WEDNESDAY’S BIG HEADLINES
Sterling-Gomez row shows no sign of letting up
Family. It’s a loaded phrase which means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Sure, you’ve got wholesome, nurturing, largely theoretical families like the Brady Bunch, but then you’ve also got the Manson Family. Most are complicated organisms - especially at Christmas, when someone brings up Brexit after the pigs in blankets have all been seen off with military precision.
The point is, family dynamics are rarely straightforward. And that was brought home on Day Two of the Raheem Sterling Grabbing Joe Gomez By The Throat Storm which has come to dominate England’s preparations for Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro, a game which Sterling will now miss as a punishment for his actions.
If Monday night was the day the s*** was thrown, Tuesday was the day it hit the fan. After news of Sterling’s canteen contretemps leaked, and England put out a statement confirming his punishment, yesterday was the day when noises started emerging through leaks from the camp that the players weren’t happy with Southgate’s decision; Sterling himself was dissatisfied with how his manager had handled the row; and the City star had even been in a car heading home before Southgate was talked around by senior players, including Jordan Henderson, before ordering Sterling to pull a quick u-turn.
Messi makes decision on Barcelona future - Euro Papers
Tuesday was also the day that Joe Gomez emerged for training with a visible scratch under his eye, prompting the most earnest analysis of a footballer’s facial injuries since David Beckham strolled outside with a strategically placed Alice band revealing the plaster used to patch up his eyebrow after getting the boot from Fergie. Southgate faced the media, though, and painted this as nothing more than a family spat. “I love all of my players," he said.
We are like a family, and all families have disagreements. The most important thing is that you communicate through those disagreements. I expect as a manger to deal with things that are unexpected or difficult, that’s part and parcel of working with elite players.
Southgate defends decision to drop Sterling after Gomez fallout
“I’m dealing with a very young squad in a sport where emotions run high. Raheem explained that his emotions ran over for a brief moment. It would be correct to say that was not the same for Joe. I’m not prepared to go into detail. There is enough conjecture and opinion and talk out there, we don’t need to add that. We’ve dealt with this as a group, we’ve decided the best way forward.”
It is certainly true that in the news vacuum that is international week, this incident has assumed greater importance than it merits. It may also be true that, as a succession of former pros queued up to tell the media yesterday, this kind of thing used to happen every day in their playing careers.
But ultimately, Southgate and the FA are trying to developing an elite, professional culture at all levels of the national team and grabbing a team-mate by the throat isn’t either of those things.
So a misstep from Sterling in an otherwise remarkable campaign for England, and potentially a misstep from Southgate in terms of his handling of the situation. But not a lot more than that. Families eh?
Chelsea fines leaked
Everything has been going remarkably well for Frank Lampard at Chelsea this season. All the young English kids are excelling, Christian Pulisic’s transition to Premier League football has been handled sensitively and brilliantly, everyone’s happy and not a single female doctor has been pushed out of the club for simply doing her job. Even if Lampard was a Mourinho loyalist during his playing days, his managerial style is evidently very different.
However, the mark of Mourinho was all over the club fines list which was leaked on social media yesterday.
Just the £20,000 for being late for the report time for training! £500 for every MINUTE you are late for a team meeting! £5,000 for embarrassing your manager by refusing to be substituted during a cup final! Okay we made the last one up. But still, it’s a rare insight into the disciplinary regime behind one of England’s best teams. Don't mess with Frank.
Lionesses fail to roar
The Warm-Up: Will Phil Neville realise he’s not as good as he thinks?
Image credit: Getty Images
A modicum of pressure eased off the shoulders of Phil Neville last night as England’s Lionesses saw a difficult end to 2019 conclude with a 3-2 win away at Czech Republic, and only thanks to a late winner from Leah Williamson. That victory will do little to relax the focus on Neville, though, with only two wins in six matches and lot of sceptical fingers being pointed in his direction.
Even Neville said the result was an unconvincing one: "We got the win, that's what I demanded. We should be beating Czech Republic by more than 3-2. We dominated the second half but we were careless in possession and with the final ball or cross. Now the hard work starts for after Christmas, getting back to the level they and I know we can achieve. I'm looking forward now to the hard work and getting back to the level I know we can."
The Warm-Up will mostly leave that here. Aside from just reminding you of an interview Neville gave to the Telegraph earlier this year:
Thank your lucky stars. I’m here. I’m here to stay. And I’m going to continue to keep improving. I’ve got a long way to go but I think with the set of players we’ve got and with my philosophy, I think we can go a long way. I live and breathe it, and I never have a bad day.
IN OTHER NEWS
Erling Braut Haaland is an exceptional young player with a devastating record this season - but why does he keep saying that footballs are his girlfriends?
The Warm-Up was a big fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid. You know, ‘turn to page 37 to sneak onto the pirate ship, turn to page 43 to run off home’, that kind of thing. Well now, thanks to BR Football, there is a modern equivalent: Your Call, which launched yesterday on YouTube and allows you to build a career as a hot young prospect in football. Nicely done.
It’s still barren on the football front but the Northern Ireland Open is in full swing in the snooker - watch live on Eurosport 1 and Eurosport Player from 12:45pm today!
Andi Thomas has spent the past 24 hours interviewing various medical professionals and his deep dive on gentle facial lacerations and what they say about modern England will be out tomorrow morning.