SINCE being promoted to the role of England manager in 2016, one of Gareth Southgate’s biggest successes has been the way in which he has inculcated a genuine sense of togetherness and eradicated the cliques and rivalries that used to bedevil previous teams.

Southgate has worked assiduously to cultivate a sense of ‘club England’, successfully creating an environment where success on the international stage is seen to supersede the club concerns that dominate a player’s mind when they step outside the England bubble. Unlike on some occasions in the past, this is a group of players that want to report to St George’s Park and play for their country.

So, with that in mind, the England boss was never going to ignore the events that blew up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez on Monday. Less than 24 hours after they squared up to each other on the pitch during Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Manchester City at Anfield, the England team-mates reignited their dispute at England’s training base. Some choice words in the players’ canteen led to a physical altercation that only ended when others intervened. Southgate, who was immediately informed of the incident, was not going to let it pass.

Let’s be clear here, this isn’t a major crisis. Team-mates fall out all the time, just as colleagues in workplaces up and down the country get embroiled in altercations that lead to their manager having to step in. It is not unusual, and a few minutes after their clash, Sterling and Gomez were shaking hands and sharing a joke together. Sterling has subsequently taken to Instagram to apologise. “I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me,” he wrote.

Some former players, including Rio Ferdinand, have suggested that should have been the end of it, and that Southgate should not have become involved. That would have been a sign of weakness on the part of the England manager though, and a tacit acceptance that standards would be allowed to slip just because one of England’s most important players was the one to have crossed the line.

Others have claimed a private warning would have sufficed, and the situation should have been hushed up rather than publicly acknowledged. Is that realistic, though, in the social media age? With England the only story in town this week, journalists with close connections to the camp were already aware that something had happened. The story would inevitably have come out.

Southgate’s decisiveness, which resulted in him dropping Sterling from the squad for Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Montenegro but retaining him for Sunday’s final group game in Kosovo, was the right move. As was the collective FA decision to go public with their manager’s decision via the issuing of a statement late last night.

Southgate has asserted his authority and made crystal clear that club tensions will not be allowed to infect his squad. He has admonished Sterling, but not embarrassed him to the extent that his motivation when next pulling on an England shirt might wane. The situation has been resolved cleanly and quickly, allowing attention to be retrained on the game against Montenegro.

Would he have acted the same way if Thursday's game had been a World Cup semi-final against Germany? Who knows. But in the context of the situation that unfolded on Monday, Southgate has made the right call.