Raheem Sterling, footballing savant, youth academy valedictorian, Europe's Golden Boy, Jamainglish sensation, Hairspray Poster Boy, and all around apple of Liverpudlian eyes, looks to be on his way out of town. Further, his exit strategy seems to have been planned with all of the care and subtlety of Ramsay Bolton's wedding night. This is not the Dreem we had dreamt and this shit is most certainly NOT OUR MOTHERLOVING TEMPO.
As best as we care to glean, the facts: Liverpool are our beloved club, Raheem Sterling is our beloved player, and the relationship between the two seems to be on as sure of footing as Buttercup and Humperdinck post-Fire Swamp. Agents are a cancerous blight on professional sport. Money stains everything. Santa is not real, and surely Aidy Ward is having a laugh. (Editor's Note: He is not.)
Post-Sterling math is being conjured all around us, but we can't seem to shake the foggy prism of disbelief that is our perspective on how obscene the matter has become. Sums are getting rapidly spit out, but all we see is an end for which we have no stomach and even less heart. Mr. Ward's latest comments have shifted the context from wut to da fuq at nothing short of Ludicrous Speed. Buckle up, folks, the transfer window hasn't even opened yet. For us it's like knowing you have a hangover before feeling you have a hangover. That stale insistence of cotton mouth waking you before the first thrumming ache that sets the brain to jelly? Sounds about right, ya.
Liverpool. For Fowler's sake. We coulda been somebody this season. Instead, a deafening and dispiriting womp-womp of a season ending stretch gets punctuated with an enema of ETW. And not the dignified kind that requires scheduling and comes with soothing ocean sounds. Nope, this is Grandma and a bar of soap, and quit your whining her stories are coming on! /Reads about United inquiry. /Sobs.
This isn't getting shot of Luis Suarez or Fernando Torres, because lets be honest, we had gotten our money's worth on both. This is one of our little homegrown fawns before he even super'd his nova. This was the blueprint success story for fighting the good fight in the right way against all of the megabucks. Financial Fair Play, culture, a neo-Liverpool Way. Style.
Steven Gerrard, arguably the greatest ever Liverpool player, is ending his career to a cacophony of stories detailing the when, where, and how of the many offers he spurned to stay in Red all these years, and we're capping that off with Aidy effing Ward? Sterling can't even legally drink in the America, but that doesn't stop us from doing so thanks to this putrid state of affairs. And each gulp feels like swallowing a pineapple sideways. Each swipe through the wardrobe seems to be coming up with darker and darker shades of black. We're another set of quotes away from going full 2007 Britney Spears on it. /Rereads Ward quotes, blinks, reads again. /Rage.
Look, it's not that Liverpool won't recoup loads of dough from this - they will. It's not that the squad doesn't arguably have a ready made replacement - it looks to have several. It's not that it's impossible that Liverpool will identify some studs in the window to make all this heartache worthwhile - that is absolutely a possibility, if not a probability. It's that he is (was?) ours in this really special way.
He was the rose that grew from the concrete. And having grown from that concrete, his petals have certain scratches, and marks, and hues that are so LFC. In time - and perhaps not so much of it - it will be easy to point back at the wretchedness of this situation and rationalize away that beauty. Just one of many, we'll say. Look at the return on investment, we'll crow. Raheem Sterling: Overhyped and underperformed, we'll read. But these were our scratches and our marks, and this was supposed to be the first movement of a symphony in our fucking shade of Red.
Before this is all said and done, there will be blood - hell, there's already been some. There will also probably be some Jova's, or Carvalho's, or Lacazette's, or whoever else have you's to move this ship forward. The Unicorn, the Lallama, His Hendycakes, Mama, Papa, and Ebay are still here, after all. And yet: No more mohawks, nor pompahawks, nor high top fades. Never again that marsupial roadkill, goodbye tiny, tiny arms. Farewell preposterous derriere-driven speed and strength...
Everything is the worst as Raheem Sterling douses us in gasoline and sets fire to what was once destined to be so precious. Perhaps the method of his agent-driven departure means his being gone will be easier than his leaving. But this time last year we had a Pistolero, a Studge, a Legend, a DAgger, and a Dreem. It's a sphincter-clenching proposition at this rate, but we have to ask: what will we have this time next year?
Your move, John.