The Wisdom of Raheem

Wisdom of Raheem

His agent Aidy Ward might be a div, but his client is saying important things. The club must change their ways, or they will lose the best English player this generation will see.

Sterling's desire to leave has left many incredulous. If you can get past the cliches about greed, bad agents, egotistical young players and glory-hunting then you will see that Sterling has solid insights into the state of Liverpool FC. We have heard from Sterling himself, but what we have heard is this: that he wants to win trophies and he wants to hear songs about him in the Kop. The truth is that none of these things are mutually exclusive. And if you read in between the lines what he is actually saying will sound more like this:

I'm going to be at the peak of my powers soon and I want to accomplish all that I can, while I can. I'd love for the Kop to praise and sing my name, but the club is heading in the wrong direction. I want to accomplish my goals here, but I don't believe it will happen. I'm not going to finish my career full of regret like Stevie G did.

We all know that wealth and trophies are well within his grasp, but to make the most out of his gifts he needs to be at a club that can provide the best environment for him. Liverpool isn't a bad environment for a young player to grow, but it also isn't a club where he will soar. And he is young enough that he can go to another club, have great success and still be revered as one of their own with songs sung in his name. The only people who will remember him poorly will be the brokenhearted faithful preaching in the Kop.

Merely stating the obvious, the goals, the trophies and the money are all directly linked. As Jamie Carragher pointed out:

"If he wants to win trophies, he has to be able to deliver in big games, and he hasn't done that".

Sterling doesn't believe Liverpool is a club where any of this will happen for him, but has anyone stopped to look at why? Carragher has suggested that Sterling's own performance failures have put him in this position. Nothing could be further from the truth, and attitudes like that are why Raheem wants to leave.

During this campaign Sterling has been the only legitimate attacking threat deployed up front. This made it very easy for teams to lock him down and take away space. If you have any doubts consider the performances he put in when Daniel Sturridge when on the pitch. In their ten matches together Sterling scored five goals and tallied another three assists. In his other thirty-three matches without Sturridge, he managed only three goals. Raheem Sterling scored 71% of his goals playing with Daniel Sturridge. Imagine how many he would score if he consistently had quality around him. Sterling can't play his best football without more talent around him, and very few footballers can.


With Sturridge's future is in doubt, Sterling is right to question his own. The argument could be made that Sterling has been impetuous, but to do so implies that management will supply the squad with better quality in the future. After the last Summer's transfer window could anyone blame him for his doubts? Liverpool did a poor job building the squad last summer and they did it while having a massive war chest. Should he trust that the club will do better with even less money this Summer? After the performances of Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli its hard to imagine the club could do much worse.

Sterling likely sees that a bigger problem exists - that the talent is good enough but lead by a manager who doesn't know how to use it. Rickie Lambert scored fifteen times for Southampton in 2013 and another thirteen in 2014. Likewise, Mario Balotelli put in some solid performances with AC Milan before arriving at Anfield. The system Rodgers employs requires pace that those two cannot provide - which causes one to wonder why the club bothered to sign them.

With pace in high-demand one might ask why Fabio Borini spent most of the season in the stands. His opportunities were sparse, brief and poor which was not unlike the start of his loan spell with Sunderland in 2014. However, once he settled into the squad he performed very well by netting five goals in his final ten games. Rodgers never gave Borini the chance to settle into the squad. Was this due to his inability? Or was it because the club were upset that he refused to leave after a good offer was tabled?

Brendan Rodgers insists the club are a giant of world football, but the clubs results in the last decade suggest anything but. Giants of world football don't annually lose their top players. If it does happen they have a habit of replacing them. Giants of world football don't embarrass themselves in Champions League and outdo their own disgrace by being humiliated in Europa League. Giants of world football don't capitulate on their home ground to an inferior side in a match dedicated to honoring their retiring captain. Raheem Sterling is giving the club a reality check and by refusing to listen they are validating every concern he has.

I hate losing Raheem Sterling, but not just because I know he will score fifteen or twenty goals for another side next year. I know deep down that his fears about the club are completely true. The club was recently described as being loyal to a fault. Can we really fault Raheem Sterling for not following that script?

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