Raheem Sterling might be England’s best player, but Gareth Southgate is right to punish the forward for his bust-up with Joe Gomez.
While club rivalries tend to flare up on occasion, a national team can’t survive, or better put, be successful, unless they manage to find a way to leave those rivalries aside when the international break comes around.
This week, England failed at surpressing their club rivalries, as Raheem Sterling confronted Joe Gomez in a “private team area” just a day after the heated Premier League clash between Manchester City and Liverpool, which the latter won 3-1. Sterling left a scratch under the eye of Joe Gomez, which was spotted this morning in training.
According to Sky Sports, Gomez and a few other England players were laughing at Sterling when he walked into the player canteen, with Sterling then saying “You think you’re the big man now?”, before grabbing Gomez around the neck.
While the 2 players managed to set aside their problems and apologize, Gareth Southgate simply had no choice but to punish Sterling – and so he has dropped him for Thursday’s Euro qualifier against Montenegro.
While Southgate’s punishment has seemed harsh to some, there is one important piece of English football history that we have to remember when it comes to this topic – the 2000’s golden generation. This was when England had the likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, and many others playing for the national teams in their prime.
On paper, probably the best national team in the world at the time.
However, they failed to win anything of note, and even shockingly failed to qualify for Euro 2008. Rio Ferdinand later stated that the England players being incapable of setting aside club rivalries was largely the reason why that golden generation failed.
On the other hand, the Spanish national team between 2008 and 2012 had many players that played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, 2 fierce rivals, but their ability to set aside club rivalries was superb, and they won 2 European Championships and a World Cup as a result of it.
Now, with the current England team being the best the country has produced since that time, they can’t afford to allow the same club rivalries to get in the way. Southgate dropping Sterling for an important fixture sends a message to all the other England players, that carrying club rivalries over to the national team is not something that will ever be condoned.