The story today from the Liverpool camp is that Raheem Sterling reported to training this morning after two days of being ‘ill’. He’s a player I really like watching, because of his pace, dribbling and the fact he can play in many different positions. Unfortunately he has damaged his reputation over the last six months, to say the least and it really is a shame.
The reason I decided to write about this is because of the story a couple of days ago that according to Sky, Sterling doesn’t want to play for Brendan Rodgers anymore. I just found this unbelievable. You have to remember that Rodgers played and believed in Sterling when no one knew who he was. He put him in his team week-in, week-out when they challenged for the title a couple of seasons ago. He (Rodgers) never says a bad word about him, protects him and teaches him and for Sterling to say he wants to leave because of Rodgers is frankly disrespectful. Where would Sterling be if it weren’t for Rodgers? It’s like Jack Wilshere saying he doesn’t want to play for Arsene Wenger or (old example) Cristiano Ronaldo saying he doesn’t want to play for Sir Alex Ferguson.
This seems to be the final nail in the coffin after he rejected a very generous £100,000-a-week contract, did a 20-minute interview about it without permission and now has refused to go on the pre-season tour. He’s been terribly advised by Aidy Ward and to be honest, it’s been a bit of a train wreck in terms of asking to leave a football club. When he rejected the contract and wanted to leave, I gave him the benefit of the doubt because he may have wanted to go to Chelsea/Manchester City/Arsenal for the trophies. So when I heard it was because of Rodgers, I was very disappointed and I’m not even a Liverpool fan.
I expect Manchester City to bid the £50 million (or at least a figure close to that) and I expect Sterling to leave. Clearly there is no way back- normally you think if he stays and scores, everyone’ll forgive him but not for a case like this. There were boos from the Liverpool fans when Sterling was playing for England and there’s also this picture (via Getty Images) from the Stoke match in May. That’s not the reaction of fans, who are going to forgive you. If I were to give him advice, it would be just leave and prepare yourself for hell when you return to Anfield next season.
One issue that some people have been raising is that if he goes to City, he’ll be another Jack Rodwell or Scott Sinclair. I don’t see that happening because he’s better than both those players were when they moved to City. Also in the position he plays, he is competing with Jesus Navas and Samir Nasir. Nasir seems to have fallen out of favour with Pellegrini and nothing really happened for him last season. Navas is a player I thought would be much better than what he has been. He has got the pace, as everyone knows, but that’s about it. He’s never going to cut inside a blast one into the top corner, he isn’t going to take up clever positions and play the final pass. He’s a traditional winger and that’s fine but you have got to have good delivery and for the reputation he had when he was in Spain, I think his delivery is poor. I’d rather have Sterling in my team than Navas so there’s a decent chance Pellegrini will feel the same way.
However, this is why the title says “sadly no way back”. It’s sad because Liverpool were the perfect club for his football development- he was playing every game, with players just as good as him (Coutinho, Sturridge etc.) and for a big club. Now he could go to City and Navas/Nasir is still chosen ahead of him. He’s got himself into a tricky situation, seemingly because he just wants a different manager. As a player I like, I do hope it works out OK for him but there are definitely no guarantees.