As he heads off with England again, Raheem Sterling was asked how working under Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool has benefitted his development. For the 19-year-old, the biggest thing has been that his manager has pushed him to develop the ability to take on different positions across the attacking band and in midfield.
"He has taught me to play in numerous different positions and to adapt to different positions, being able to work and be effective in each of them," said the diminutive attacker, who under Rodgers' tutelage has in a few short season gone from promising starlet to one of the first names on the teamsheet for both club and country despite his young age.
There may be legitimate concerns about Rodgers' refusal to rest and rotate exhausting the youngster, as in both his first senior season and this year, Sterling appears to have been overplayed early and to have then suffered for it. Still, and criticisms on that front—and there are valid criticisms to be made—it's hard to argue there hasn't been a net positive.
His flair and pace meant when he broke through,he was always going to be labelled a speed merchant. Another fast winger without a great deal of guile or tactical sense, albeit with the raw tools to become one of the best such players on the planet. Now, having developed a more well-rounded game, there's an argument he's wasted on the wing.
Sterling has come so far and so fast at developing his touch, his ability to read the game, and his tactical awareness that the natural tendency is to always want him in the centre of the pitch and in the thick of the action. Arguments over whether Brendan Rodgers has played him too often for his own good aside, that's largely thanks to the manager.
"The best piece of advice I've been given is to live, eat, and sleep football," added Sterling. "It was great advice given to me by the manager, and it has helped me going forward."