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Sterling v Gomez: Why Man City & Liverpool fans can both be happy with their brawlers

COMMENT: Manchester City fans should be pleased. As should their rivals in Red. Broken plates. Tea cups thrown. And a leak to the press. Yet last week's England bust-up should have both sets of support pleased with their own man.

Another player. Or maybe another result. And Joe Gomez isn't sporting that nick across his face. Nor is he being jeered by his own at Wembley. But no matter the hand wringing from all those finger waggers. Raheem Sterling's Monday meltdown should give a Pep in the step of every City fan.

Brooding. Short tempered. Sterling still hadn't come down from Sunday's result at Liverpool. And with the way Gomez handled him on the day, the City man just couldn't let things go. Especially less than 24 hours after he'd walked down Anfield's tunnel a loser.

And that's just it. In Monday's flashpoint, Sterling showed he cared. He cared about his performance. He cared about being outdone by Gomez. For the cynic, it would end there. But Sterling also cared about the result. The manner of Liverpool's victory. If he'd delivered the low-key performance as he did last Sunday - and City had still ended the game as victors - Sterling's not blowing up as he did at St George's Park. As we say, another player - just look down the road from the Etihad - and it's quickly forgotten. A little frustration missing out on the win bonus, but there's always next week. But Pep Guardiola doesn't work with players like that. Sterling's not like that. And it's why City have been back-to-back Premier League champions.

So what about Gomez? Outstanding on Sunday. He's also played a blinder during the week. The epitome of what you want from a pro. From one your own. It was the Liverpool defender who intervened and convinced Gareth Southgate, the England coach, not to completely jettison Sterling from the squad. If he'd had his way, Gomez would've lined up alongside Sterling against Montenegro. The clash quickly resolved and put behind them.

Dad Augustus said as much 24 hours after it had all been leaked to the press: "He wasn't expecting it, it happened, he brushed it away and he carried on.

“It is normal. Young people are very ambitious and very willing to win for their team and that is what happens. If Liverpool were losing, one of the players would be agitated as well.

Raheem Sterling - it is not his fault. Fans were agitating him and he took it out because of his frustration. We all understand that; it is football, we are human beings."

Bang! Like father, like son. No hysterics. No vengeance. Gomez just shook hands with Sterling and moved on. Sterling confirming Augustus' comments in reaction to the jeers his England teammate copped on Thursday.

"Joe hasn't done anything wrong and for me to see someone who keeps his head down and work hard, especially after a difficult week, for him to be booed when he came on tonight was wrong," Sterling posted to social media moments after the final whistle of England's 7-0 triumph.

Again, Gomez's behaviour offers us volumes as to why Liverpool are European champions and top of the table. With characters like these, it's makes things that much easier for Jurgen Klopp to manage.

And the jeers? Well, the most predictable reaction came from the wailing press. Absolving themselves of all responsibility. Of all blame. No-one could explain why the booing occurred. Or perhaps didn't really wish to. Instead it was old trotted out line: that ugly element inside the England support. Yet still, there was no explanation from the scribes why it happened. Some even raised the north-south thing, even though both players are London raised and playing for northern clubs.

So why did it happen? Well, if those with byelines bothered to look inward, perhaps they'd find reason enough.

Eighteen months ago, Sterling was in the position Gomez finds himself now. At the World Cup, the City attacker was being barracked for his form in Russia, sure. But like Gomez, the negativity spilled out beyond the pitch.

The media. The lot of 'em. From football. To politics. And lifestyle. They were climbing over eachother to condemn Sterling. Why? For a picture on his leg. A gun tattoo. Suddenly Sterling was responsible for all gun violence across the country. And it reached the point where the player, having taken this personal and private lifelong gesture was forced, in the most cringing of ways, to tell the baying mob how it symbolised the memory of his late father...

Cycle through to today and considering the way Sterling was treated in Russia. The way the jeers were egged on by those who now laud him. It's like a different era.

But it's not. It's not even 18 months ago. But now those whom commentate... better yet let's say pontificate... on Sterling have done a complete 180. The lad is David Beckham on steroids. Sir Bobby Moore. Sir Bobby Robson. All wrapped into one. Not a week goes by without us being told how Sterling has his pick of endorsement deals, how he must be a sure thing for the Ballon d'Or. Even a future knighthood no doubt... you get the picture.

So with Sterling on such a pedestal, is it any wonder that Gomez found himself a villain in all this? He was the victim. He went out of his way to shut down any fallout. Yet he's the one being booed by his own? It doesn't make sense. But nor did the way Sterling was put through the wringer during the World Cup. The very same supporters who jeered him in Russia were booing Gomez at Wembley. And the one constant in all this is the boom bust coverage of the English press.

Which is exactly what we've seen of the reporting from inside St George's. But it needn't have been. Gomez Snr gave us blow-by-blow. It was over in seconds. The fallout in hours. And the players answered all those 'disunity' claims by putting seven goals past Montenegro. Where's the story?

Well, maybe it's again about the football. Club football. And in a tumultuous week, the satisfaction - at both ends of the scale - that supporters of City and Liverpool can take from the behaviour of their respective men.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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