Club rivalries are coming in the way of England players and head coach Gareth Southgate has an issue to resolve before it tears the squad apart.

Raheem Sterling was sidelined for England’s clash against Montenegro after Gareth Southgate revealed that the tensions were still rousing in the dressing room after Liverpool’s thumping victory against Manchester City last weekend.

Southgate said before the game, “We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday. One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately, the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw.”

What happened in the City vs Liverpool game?

Manchester City was defeated convincingly amid certain controversial VAR calls by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side. The Reds bagged three goals in that match and now have secured a remarkable nine-point lead ahead of Pep Guardiola’s team merely after 12 matches of the season.

Of course, traction arose during the course of the game and in one particular incident –  Joe Gomez and Raheem Sterling got involved in bust-up.

However, such an occurrence is common in such high-intensity matches and hence was brushed aside, until…

Sterling and Gomez confronted each other during the training…

It is believed that Raheem Sterling arrived at the player’s canteen and found Gomez laughing with other England teammates. Already, Sterling had been lambasted and made fun of on the social media after his apparent conflict with the Liverpool defender on the field in the match.

As per Sky, the winger then asked Gomez, “You think you’re the big man now?” and grabbed the 22-year-old by his neck. Several other players had to intervene in between to cool down the mood but this notably didn’t go down well with Southgate who took a very bold and vocal decision to not include Sterling in the upcoming game.

The winger took to Twitter to clear everything

Regardless of that, the Manchester City star continues to be a part of the squad and we might get to see him in some other game in the near future.

However, though this rift could be pushed off as just another exchange of words between two teammates.

Gomez faces the heat, again!

With Sterling out of contention for England’s game against Montenegro, Joe Gomez had to face the wrath of the English fans when he came on as a late substitute for Mason Mount in the game. The defender was introduced in the 80th minute amidst England’s 7-0 rout, but the fans incessantly booed the Liverpool player upon his arrival on the field.

Sterling has won hearts and the support of England’s football fans through his incredible performances on the field and him being sidelined due to an altercation with Gomez meant that the latter was meant to battle the situation despite the mood around the victory being quite positive.

Later, the Manchester City forward released a statement requesting the fans to tone down their anger against Gomez. Further details are awaited on this particular story!

What does it actually mean in the larger context?

Gareth Southgate has done an extremely impressive job with the England national team, both in terms of the brand of football that they play and instilling a sense of concord amongst the teammates who for the major part of the year represent various other arch-rival clubs.

This was the one most perplexing reason why their generation of supremely talented footballers in the first half of the 2000s and even a bit later, failed to develop coherence amongst the team’s dynamics.

The Manchester United-Liverpool-Chelsea rivalry, at that point of time, hampered the progress of a potentially brilliant England national football team.

In this instance as well, Sterling has had a rough time with the Reds back in the day and his transfer to City was met with incessant criticism and outrage from the Liverpool faithful.  So, there is undoubtedly a vehement bit of history involved and though the FA might just try to create a smokescreen over this controversy and so would players do in their own capacity.

It seems difficult to believe that the team’s harmony would remain unperturbed after such a vastly publicized fissure between two such prominent characters of the team.