Former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure believes Pep Guardiola will be ‘disappointed’ at how England manager Gareth Southgate dealt with Raheem Sterling.
Sterling has been axed for his country’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro – which is LIVE on talkSPORT – after an altercation with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez at St George’s Park on Monday.
It is understood Sterling had to be pulled away by shocked England teammates after confronting and squaring up to Gomez in a private team area at their training base.
Southgate explained his decision and said it had been taken with the agreement of the entire England squad, while Ben Chilwell has said both players stood up in front of the squad to apologise.
But Toure, who played alongside Sterling at the Etihad, has sympathised with his former teammate and feels the situation was not dealt with correctly by Southgate.
“I think people are overreacting because in training this can happen,” Toure told Sky Sports. “In the game they were face to face and then straight to the international team.
“It can happen, me and my brother we fight, we argue, we smash each other. The manager should just take him away. It’s not good for the player’s mentality.
“Raheem is one of the best players in England at the moment. I think Harry Kane is not in his best moment, Raheem is the best player for England.
“For him to be in this kind of situation, with all the pressure around him and on his shoulders, he has to deal with racism, plus the fact he was playing at Anfield where the fans are booing him – it can affect him. The manager does not have to be involved.
“Pep Guardiola could be a little bit disappointed with him [Southgate].
“Raheem is still young and learning. If my player acted like that, being angry and showing himself like this, I would be very happy.
“This means he wants to win and achieve – that is important. A player without this character, for me, is nonsense.”
Another player to voice their displeasure at the situation was Rio Ferdinand, who wrote a lengthy post on Facebook to question why the matter was not dealt with internally.
LIVE on talkSPORT
Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week
- England vs Montenegro (Thursday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT
- Coventry vs Rochdale (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Azerbaijan vs Wales (Saturday, 5pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Tranmere vs Wycombe (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Kosovo vs England (Sunday, 5pm) – talkSPORT
“Gareth has handled being England manager brilliantly – up to this point,” Ferdinand wrote. “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 and Gomez. Sterling was still upset with Gomez about the result on Sunday and their little pushing/words said during the game.
“So he has obviously gone into the England camp heated and 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!”