Gareth Southgate defends decision to drop Raheem Sterling after Joe Gomez altercation and likens England squad to a family

12 Nov

Gareth Southgate says his England squad are like a ‘family’ and ready to move on from Raheem Sterling’s altercation with Joe Gomez.

The Football Association confirmed on Monday that Manchester City forward Sterling had been involved in a confrontation with Liverpool defender Gomez at St George’s Park.

Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez initially clashed during Liverpool’s win over Man City
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The incident came less than 24 hours after the pair had clashed during Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over title rivals City at Anfield.

Sterling has subsequently been told he will not be selected for Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro, while Gomez has been absolved of any blame.

But Southgate is now keen to forget the episode, which he likened to a family disagreement.

“Raheem in his (social media) post last night explained for a very brief moment his emotions ran over. It would be correct to say that’s not the same for Joe,” he said.

“We are dealing with a very young squad in a sport where emotions often run high. These things happen in football. My priority is always the care and wellbeing of all my players. All my players.

“Then you have a decision to make as to whether there needs to be something further, which is my reasoning for not selecting Raheem for the game on Thursday.”

Sterling and Gomez both trained on Tuesday and the City star, having issued an apology, will be considered again for selection for Sunday’s clash with Kosovo.

The pair were pictured training together on Tuesday morning after their bust up the previous day
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“I love all of my players. We are like a family and all family have disagreements,” Southgate said, when asked if he was disappointed in Sterling’s conduct.

“Most important for any family is to come through those disagreements and work through them. I don’t expect as a manager to never have to deal with things that are unexpected or difficult.

“It’s part and parcel of the job and part and parcel of working with elite players. Our focus now is to move forward.

“The reality is I’m not prepared to go into details. There is enough conjecture and opinion and talk out there and we don’t need to add to it.

“As a group we’ve decided the best way forward and we’re in agreement on that. We move on from there.”

talkSPORT.com has delved through some of the other key talking points that arose from Southgate’s press conference on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of England vs Montenegro on talkSPORT this Thursday…


What really happened on Monday..

“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.

“I’ve said what I think needs to be said but we have to keep as much as we can between ourselves.”

Gomez was nursing a scratch by his eye following the incident
Getty Images – Getty

Have Sterling and Gomez spoken today?

“It was crucial to me that everyone in the group was comfortable and is speaking and is ready to move forward with football and that was absolutely clear. That’s why everyone is still in the camp, that’s why everyone is part of the squad and that’s why we’re working together to beating Montenegro on Thursday.

“I’m assuming [they’ve had a conversation today]. I’ve not been with them for every minute of the day. But all of the players are talking and communicating, absolutely.”

Was Jordan Henderson the peacemaker following the incident?

“I consult very closely with all the players – in particular my senior ones.

“They have a very good understanding of how we have worked over the last few years.

“We are a united group. Now we have to turn our focus onto the football, which we have done.

“We have a hugely important match this Thursday night. That is why I am speaking now on this. And we can draw a line under this.”

Jordan Henderson reportedly both players following the incident in an attempt to defuse the situation
Getty Images – Getty

On information being leaked to the press…

“In my view, the group are moving forward. There seems to be all sorts of information being passed from 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.”

On putting the incident behind them…

“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.

“Now we have to turn our attention to the football. We’ve got a hugely important qualifier to qualify for a European Championship.

Gareth Southgate’s England will qualify for next summer’s tournament with a win or draw
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