Former Manchester United and England star Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Gareth Southgate for his handling of the clash between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.
The two players first came to blows on the pitch at the weekend towards the end of the Liverpool vs Manchester City Premier League contest at Anfield.
And according to the Mail and others, it seems the bad feelings between the pair continued into the start of England duty as they clashed in the players’ canteen.
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This saw Sterling axed by England manager Southgate, but Ferdinand believes this could have been kept under wraps and has been blown out of all proportion.
Writing on his Facebook page, the pundit, who won 81 caps for England between 1997 and 2011, said that incidents like this and much worse used to happen all the time, but did not escalate in this way.
In a strong message to Southgate, Ferdinand pleas with the Three Lions boss to educate Sterling instead of putting him in the spotlight like this after he’s previously received so much negative media attention.
Here is Ferdinand’s Facebook post in full:
“GARETH has handled being England manager brilliantly – up to this point.
“He has conducted himself in a 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 #lfc vs #mcfc game.
“So he has obviously gone into the England camp heated & gone for Gomez, 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 Raheem & Gomez, we heard there was a fight”. Easy answer & 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 turnt 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 had 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 & 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, Raheem felt embarrassed by all that went on at the weekend…. a sign of winning mentality….. however channeled wrongly. Help educate him!”