Former England international Rio Ferdinand has questioned whether Gareth Southgate was right to go public with his punishment of Raheem Sterling.
The Manchester City star is not expected to feature in Thursday’s fixture against Montenegro, as punishment for a throat grab on England colleague Joe Gomez.
The winger has since then apologized for his actions, but that has in no way seen the matter die down among fans and pundits who believe the England manager made the wrong choice in the manner in which the case was approached.
Rio Ferdinand doesn’t see the need to handle the matter publicly, revealing in a post on his personal Facebook account, that Sterling’s punishment should have been handled internally if really they had hoped for the best outcome.
“Gareth has handled being England manager brilliantly – up to this point.” Ferdinand wrote.
“He has conducted himself in an admirable, eloquent & engaging way. Helping to make a nation feel like they can have some sort of confidence & respect for the national team. However, I feel this incident could have been handled better.
“Keep it behind closed doors & deal with it internally surely?! Come international week, it’s meet up time between Sterling & Gomez… Raheem Sterling was still upset with Gomez about the result on Sunday & their little pushing/words said during the Liverpool vs Man City game.
“So he has obviously gone into the England camp heated and gone for Gomez, [and] in doing so grabbed Gomez by the throat. Obviously, as a manager, I’m sure having a harmonious squad is the best scenario – handshakes and hugs on sight, not confrontations. But let’s be honest now this kind of stuff isn’t uncommon in squads full of testosterone.
“In the various squads I have been a part of I have seen players get punched in the face, ribs broken, nose busted, head kicked like a football…..a throat grab was the equivalent of the intricate handshake embraces that are all too familiar today! The main question is: Why this couldn’t be handled internally?
“I suppose the management have felt it would be better to nip it in the bud prior to the press, agents, family friends leaking the news. However, the worst-case on this instance would have been someone asking in a press conference ‘what happened between Sterling & Gomez, we heard there was a fight’. Easy answer and we have a game to concentrate on. Incident done and dusted. No player looks any worse, we move on.
“Now Raheem is left to defend himself from all of the haters that had had their keyboards turned off due to him becoming a very worthy ambassador for the English game, and rightly so.
“If this was a terrible incident then I would be all for public shaming & discipline. But for this ‘throat grab’ that we are told it’s for I can’t understand it.
“Gareth 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. Hindsight is a great thing though.
“It seems to me, Sterling felt embarrassed by all that went on at the weekend…. a sign of winning mentality….. however, channeled wrongly. Help educate him!”
Gareth Southgate’s response to the criticism leveled at him
Raheem Sterling has apologized, and will stay out Thursday’s match as expected, says the manager.
“I think it was important to come and speak publicly so that the players don’t need to deal with that going forward.” Southgate told reporters.
“Sterling in his post last night explained that for a very brief moment his emotions ran over. It would be correct to say that that was not the same for Joe.
“We have some excellent senior players who have played a part in bringing everybody together.”
“When you’ve made a decision like that it’s going to be public on Wednesday or Thursday anyway and I’d rather deal with it now than on the day of the game.
“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.”
Southgate says his concern is keeping the group together, and making the appropriate decision, no matter the caliber of the player involved.
He said: “It’s important to be as fair as possible on any decision I make, whether that’s a senior player or a junior player.
“The decision has been made not to consider Raheem for the game on Thursday and that’s the end of the matter for me.
“The priority for me is to keep the group together if possible and, as emotions calmed yesterday, that was clearly a possibility. I’m very impressed with the players, the way they worked it through collectively.”
He continued: “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 Championships.
“I love all of my players, we’re like a family and all families have disagreements. The most important thing is you communicate through those disagreements.
“I don’t expect, as a manager, to never have to deal with things that are difficult or unexpected. That’s part and parcel of the job.”
Despite the criticism, the manager is looking forward to an all-important encounter on Thursday. As he hopes to put aside the Sterling and Gomez spat and focus on what’s ahead.
“In my view, the group is moving forward. There seem to be all sorts of information being passed from all different areas,” He added.
“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 forward.”