Roy Keane has questioned Gareth Southgate’s handling of the fall-out between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez on international duty with England.
Manchester City winger Sterling was dropped for England’s qualifying win over Montenegro on Thursday night following his angry confrontation of Liverpool defender Gomez earlier this week, tensions from the huge meeting between their respective clubs in the Premier League last weekend spilling over into the international break.
Gomez was subsequently, and rather bizarrely, booed by sections of the England support after entering the field as a substitute at Wembley, jeers which have been condemned by Sterling via his social media accounts.
Keane has now questioned Southgate’s decision to omit Sterling from his squad, believing the Three Lions boss would have been better off simply playing down the incident.
“From my own experience, having been a manager, seeing players have fisticuffs – I think they’ve made a bigger deal than what it really is,” Keane told ITV.
especially after a difficult week for him to be booed when he came on tonight was wrong.
I’ve taken full responsibility and accepted the consequence.
I felt as though I had to say this get home safe every one ❤️ #Euro2020
— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) November 14, 2019
“I think it’s all part of the game. I suppose we’re quite quick to criticise players for not caring.
“Obviously Raheem is quite upset about the previous day – I’m not patting him on the back for going at one of his teammates, but I think Gareth [Southgate] could have played it down quite easily by saying ‘it’s no big deal, we move on’.
“He’s had to speak about it for three days now. I’m not disagreeing with what Gareth’s done, again he probably knows more than us.”
Keane recalled an incident from his own playing days at Manchester United in which he was involved in a physical altercation with teammate Peter Schmeichel, with the Irishman admitting the incident was quickly forgotten and had no impact on their relationship as teammates.
“I’ve previously had a fight with a player – Peter Schmeichel – in a hotel,” he added. “Obviously [it] was in the lobby, it was about four o’clock in the morning, there wasn’t many people around.
“We got pulled by the manager [Sir Alex Ferguson], he said we were both a disgrace.
“To be fair to Peter, he apologised. But we moved on, it never affected us as teammates.”