Rodgers Weak Yet Again: Liverpool MUST Take Charge Of Sterling Fiasco
Raheem Sterling has refused to sign a new contract with Liverpool this week, causing outrage amongst fans, and sparking a £40-million-scramble for his signature.
From Graeme Souness to Roy Hodgson, Thierry Henry to Adrian Bevington, it seems everyone who’s anyone in English football has voiced an opinion.
Throughout the city Liverpudlians are furious at the prospect of Sterling’s depature, on social media Chelsea and Arsenal fans are writing desperate pleas for their clubs to make a bid.
However, there seems to be one thing missing. Whether, like Souness, you think the 20-year-old is being naive:
“Maybe someone should whisper in his ear and tell him he’s not going anywhere better, there is nowhere better.”
Or, like Hodgson, you are sympathetic towards the situation:
“I worry for all these young players, to be honest. They become stars very quickly. Their period of potential stardom doesn’t last for very long these days.”
It would appear that nobody is pointing out Sterling’s statistics. Yes he had an exciting breakthrough season, 9 goals and 7 assists in the EPL, but he hasn’t progressed. Of course 7 goals and 8 assists this time around is a solid return for a youngster, but it’s a stand-still, a similar record to the likes of Sadio Mane and Jason Puncheon; by no means bad players but most certainly not worth anywhere near £40 million.
I do however agree with Hodgson’s sentiments entirely. The real story here is not Raheem Sterling, it’s the much deeper truth that we as a country overhype young players to the point of exhaustion. Danny Ings and Connor Wickham, two young English players struggling to reproduce their best, both wilting under the weight of expectation, still linked with the likes of Liverpool on an almost-daily basis. Ross Barkley is another example, since being compared to Paul Gascoigne he has been lost, forever dwelling on the ball, thinking that he has to do something special everytime he has possession.
A few years ago I watched a Sky Sports broadcast of Newcastle v Leicester, making his full debut in that game was an 18-year-old Nile Ranger. After an impressive performance, he was given the man of the match award and then hailed by pundits and journalists alike as a ‘future England star’.
Ranger is now contracted to crisis-club Blackpool though he hasn’t played since November.
This is not how it happens in Spain and Germany; where players with top-class potential are nurtured, paid well but not excessively, eased-in to their stardom. No, English football, and in particular the Premier League, is a a free-for-all.
You can’t really blame Sterling, who was raised in Jamaica and London by his mother, for wanting a move away.
He has been repeatedly told by the media, his manager and the Liverpool fans a that he is a wonderkid, a player worthy of Champions League football, someone who belongs in a title-winning side, yet now he is being berated for believing them.
Originally, there were reports that the QPR youth product was just haggling for a better deal than Liverpool’s initial offer of £100,000-per-week. However, now it has emerged via agent, Aidy Ward, that Sterling feels ‘hurt’ by Liverpool’s failure to look after him and that he will refuse to commit to the club no matter what:
“I don’t care about the PR of the club and the club situation. I don’t care. He is definitely not signing £700, £800, £900,000 a week. He is not signing.”
Despite this, and the cancellation of a crunch meeting between the club and Sterling’s representatives, Brendan Rodgers insists that the youngster will remain at Anfield:
“Whether there are talks or no talks, he has 2 years left and I expect him to be here. It is quite simple. I don’t see Raheem being unhappy. His representative made it very clear he wanted to speak at the end of the season.”
Unclear. Though it looks likely that this is just yet another poor attempt by Rodgers to appease fans.
If I were him I really wouldn’t be worried, there are plenty of players out there that can do just as good a job for Liverpool as Sterling; Barcelona’s Pedro for example. In fact, if the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea are willing to offer £40 million for an unproven 20-year-old, I’d sell him in a heartbeat.
That said, what Rodgers must be concerned about is the state of his club. Sterling’s lack of loyalty proves that Liverpool’s past is no longer enough to keep players tied down.
The Reds are heading into uncharted territory, Steven Gerrard the final icon of history to depart, there is a storm heading to Merseyside and, Sterling or no Sterling, I just don’t think Rodger’s is the man to lead Liverpool through it.