Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez, Guardiola vs Klopp and boardroom battles – How Man City and Liverpool have turned into bitter Premier League rivals
Manchester City vs Liverpool has now become a bitter Premier League rivalry.
The latest flashpoint was Raheem Sterling’s bust-up with Joe Gomez. The pair clashed during Sunday’s encounter at Anfield, which ended 3-1 to the Reds, and they carried it over to England duty this week.
Sterling confronted Gomez at St George’s Park on Monday when they met up with the rest of the Three Lions squad and the City star has subsequently been dropped for Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.
While it’s not great news for England boss Gareth Southgate to see two of his young stars at loggerheads, we think it’s a pretty good thing for the Premier League.
Why? Well, the biggest top-flight clashes have been somewhat watered down in recent years and lacked that real spark. But now it looks like we finally have a proper ding-dong at the top.
talkSPORT looks at the developing rivalry and explains how the relationship between the two clubs has turned sour…
The relationship at boardroom level between the two clubs has been frosty to say the least.
City have seen their revenues grow tremendously and Liverpool owner John W. Henry was sceptical at how they could achieve this in the Financial Fair Play era.
When City signed a huge sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways, who are owned by their owner, Henry tweeted ‘how much was the losing bid?’
The Reds were also said to be one of the chief complainants when Football Leaks published documents alleging that City had breach FFP, according to The Times.
Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore even tweeted a picture of a canary after their title rivals had lost to Norwich, but quickly deleted it.
Much of the tension at boardroom level stems from the alleged hacking of City’s scouting database by Liverpool recruitment staff.
Three of the Manchester club’s staff were recruited by the Reds in 2012.
City later alleged that their Scout7 system had been accessed on hundreds of occasions from June 2012 to February 2013.
Liverpool paid £1million to City in September 2013 without admitting any wrongdoing nor accepting any liability.
This story has again surfaced recently triggering enquiries by the Football Association.
Hostility amongst fans
The team coach carrying Pep Guardiola’s men to Merseyside was pelted with cans and bottles when the two sides met in the Champions League in 2018.
Flares were also unleashed by hundreds of supporters who lined the streets outside the stadium.
City were forced to seek an alternative vehicle for their return trip to Manchester, such was the damage caused to the coach.
No arrests were made in connection with the incident, as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was forced to apologise for the ‘idiots’ involved in the melee.
They were fearful the incident would be repeated on Sunday but thankfully it passed without drama.
City players also angered Liverpool when a video, shared widely on social media earlier this week, appeared to show players singing a song about Liverpool fans being ‘battered on the streets’ following their Premier League title win earlier this year.
A version of the ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ chant could be heard in the footage, with lyrics altered from the original to reference Liverpool losing last season’s Champions League final in Kiev.
There also lines that discuss Vincent Kompany, the Manchester City captain, injuring Reds forward Mohamed Salah, and one which seems to take joy in Liverpool fans being attacked.
While Manchester City denied claims this referred to the violent assault of Sean Cox by a Roma fan last year, his brother, Martin, told talkSPORT it is ‘inappropriate’ for players to sing about any individuals being beaten up.
Managers at odds
Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s rivalry has long been a professional one but they are not prone to touchline disagreements like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson.
Guardiola gave a talk at Liverpool University in 2018 and said: “I love reading but I don’t read. I start to read and then I think Liverpool, Klopp and I can’t focus.”
But their rivalry was ramped up a notch ahead of Sunday’s clash at Anfield, when the City boss accused Liverpool’s star forward Sadio Mane of diving.
Guardiola said: “Sometimes Mane is diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute.”
Klopp could not resist a little dig back, and said: “I am not too sure if I want to put oil on the fire. I am not interested in these kind of things.
“I promise not to mention tactical fouls (which City have been accused of doing from opposing managers throughout the season).
“That is maybe already too much, but that is the only thing I say about it.”
Klopp seems to have a hold on the Spaniard, having beaten him eight times over the course of his career – more wins than any other manager has had against Guardiola.
And finally… players squabbling!
Any great Premier League rivalry needs bust-ups on the pitch. Think of Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane in the tunnel before Arsenal vs Man United at Highbury and Ruud van Nistelrooy being goaded by Martin Keown at Old Trafford.
Liverpool and Manchester City finally have that with the flare up between Sterling and Gomez.
Gomez was introduced as a late substitute at Anfield, and one of his first actions was to shove Sterling and tower over him amid a dispute over the ball. He also clashed with the forward a second time, with James Milner having to separate the pair.
Sterling didn’t take too kindly this and was still stewing when the pair joined up for England duty on Monday. The City star is said to have got into Gomez’s face straight after his arrival at St George’s Park, and was trying to ‘provoke a physical confrontation’ with the Liverpool ace.
Sterling is also accused of asking Gomez if he still thought he was a ‘big man’.
The Manchester City star was swiftly dropped by Gareth Southgate for the Three Lions’ next fixture against Montenegro, which is live on talkSPORT.
Source: SportsLatest TS