Sunday 7 June 2015

There is more to the venom directed at Raheem Sterling

It is a shame to see that Raheem Sterling is now the UK's poster boy for greed. I stridently disagree with those who believe this of Raheem. I think he is a young man looking to do the best for himself. How can't that be wrong?

The case against him as outlined by Liverpool legends and many of the great and the good within the game are as follows:

1) He is too young. Why does he need all of that money?

2) He has not won anything with Liverpool

3) He is not as good as he thinks he is

4) If he lives Liverpool his career will stagnate like that of Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell

5) He should show loyalty to Liverpool

6) The best person for his development at this stage of his career is Brendan Rodgers

7) His agent is leading him down the wrong route

8) He should never pick a fight with a club as big as Liverpool

I guess you can add some of your own views to the above. I will now attempt to debunk these issues in no particular order.

Personally, I think the issues behind the demonising of Raheem goes beyond football. In my opinion a lot of the Liverpool legends are men filled with nostalgia. Men who only remember when Liverpool was a proper big club. A juggernaut, a club that dominated European and British Football. At par or better than Real Madrid and Barcelona. Unfortunately that big football club is no more. Yes the history of the club is unassailable but it is the history. The 'present' of the club and its future however are a different matter.

Anybody with little interest in British football know that Liverpool have not won the Premier League since its inception 23 years ago and they haven't won the league in 25 years. Unfortunately it does not look like they will be winning it next season either. So please Liverpool legends, spare us your big club comments. Newcastle FC (otherwise referred to us a JOKE CLUB) are also a big club and so is Aston Villa but their legends don't bore us with all these 'we are a big club' nonsense. Kindly move with the times and welcome to the real world.

Take a look at all the things that matters to young people nowadays - Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc). Liverpool FC have 4.4m followers on Twitter, Chelsea FC have 1.2m more, Arsenal FC 1.4m more & Barcelona FC have almost 4 times the number of followers that Liverpool FC have.

On Instagram, Chelsea and Arsenal both have double the followers of Liverpool with Barcelona having more than 10 times the number of followers that Liverpool have.  Barcelona have 84m followers on Facebook, Liverpool have 25m Arsenal almost 33m and Chelsea 42m. This is the generation that Raheem belongs to. Not the generation where European  competitions was played on black and white TV and the British brute strength could dominate European flair.

Again, I am not sure majority of Raheem's generation buys into this too young thing. I was young once and so were the people in my generation and in the Liverpool legends' generation. We have all  had elderly relatives and our parents wagging their fingers at us, preaching patience etc. I can't remember that advice stopping those who were truly determined. Can you imagine if Bill Gates' parents had told him not to drop out of Harvard? I mean which irresponsible youth drops out of any University talk less of Harvard. Bill Gates. That's who. See how horrible his life turned out to be. He's now busy trying to solve all the health problems of Africa. He should have stayed in Harvard. Maybe he will now be retiring to his well earned pension as the Executive VP in charge of the Post Box at IBM. Shame really.

Raheem is young and is a trait of the young to be hungry and to want everything now. That is how the young are wired. Some fly too close to the sun and get burnt, some soar and become heroes, legends, warriors etc. Those who are determined take the risks either reap the reward or have to deal with the consequences or both. So please lets leave that 'too young' thing in the dustbin.

Some argue that "because he is 20 they think he should move but will understand if he was agitating for a move when he is 24". What planet do these people live on? Raheem could have had a career ending injury today in the England v Ireland math seeing as he was playing against the Stoke FC wrestlers Wilson & Jonathan. That's it.  If he gets career ending injury, promising career gone. Finished. Finito.  Rest of his life watching old DVDs and staring at blurry pictures thinking "if only I had left Liverpool earlier and won something that can be more tangible than the memories of playing for a club that used to be big". No thank you.

Raheem is someone or some people's Dad. He is a professional and he owes it to himself to make a decision for his career whether he is 20 or 24. If he lacks understanding of financial and legal matters, he hires someone who helps him break those complicated things down into the language of a 20 year  and he says YES, NO or MAYBE.  It is not for others to determine. If any of his advisers lead him down the wrong path and he allows it, the consequences are solely his own.

To those who say Raheem has won nothing. I find this even stranger and leads me to think that this is more about prejudice. Please remind me what did Suarez and Torres win before forcing their departure from Liverpool? A League Cup and a FA Cup. That's all right then. Raheem almost won the league. Yes, not exactly a trophy but that 'almost won the league' contributed more to Liverpool's coffers than the League cup and FA cup win. You don't agree? Thank God you don't run a successful club.

What did Luke Shaw win before leaving Southampton for Manchester United? mid table mediocrity? To think Shaw is even younger than Raheem. What did Gareth Bale win for Tottenham FC before leaving for Real Madrid? Yes he helped Tottenham beat Inter Milan in that history defining night in Europe. Wow. Big deal. Gareth Bale was part of a Tottenham team that surrendered a 10 point lead to Arsenal and ended the season without that precious thing that his club has been looking for since 2010. He joined Tottenham in 2007 and in 6 years helped them into the Champions League spot only once. Fantastic return I guess if you support Tottenham. At least they don't claim to be a big club.

I can't remember anybody asking Bale to wait till he had won something with Tottenham before making his move. Now he is the proud winner of a Champions League medal and playing for a proper big club. So I guess what is sauce for Bale is not good for Sterling. 'Because WHY' I don't know. Only the Anti Sterling crowd can tell us. PREJUDICE?????

If Raheem lives Liverpool and his career stagnates like that of Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell, that's his problem. He is a professional footballer and is in charge of his career. Has anybody asked Scott and Jack if they regretted their unsuccessful moves. Going by what is in the public space about Scott I doubt if he does. People who think he does are assuming that these players main motive is playing week in week out. You are not their relatives or professional advisers. If they don't come out and specifically say what they want, who are you to assume that you know what they want. By the way Sterling has publicly said what he wants. In a world where Thomas Vermaleen has won a Chamions League, the La Liga and the Copa Del Rey, why stop in Sterling's way of winning trophies. After all, supposedly true football fans say winning is all that matters.

I will appreciate if Liverpool fans who think Raheem is not as good as he thinks he is can justify why they want him in their club. Surely your big club is only good for top talents like Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres. No? You also want him to show loyalty to Liverpool. Yeah. Like he showed to Queens Park Rangers? I can bet QPR fans are very much praying for Barcelona or Bayern Munich to make a big money move for Sterling seeing as their club desperately needs the money.  QPR fans probably understand football fandom than most big club fans. Win, lose, draw, in Premier League, in Championship, they support QPR. No delusional 25 year old glory to hang onto.

Finally, I think the "Brendan Rodgers is good for Raheem Sterling" brigade are having a giraffe. 6 weeks ago, I wrote the following on this same blog

Brendan Rodgers has failed at a few clubs. He has won nothing in his career and by passing on the opportunity to win the league last year on the alter of some silly yet to be established principle, he might never win anything again. Yet Brendan is the manager of Liverpool. The one time biggest club in the world. Let that sink in. "

The reason anybody can throw utter the accusation that Raheem Sterling has never won anything is because Rodgers couldn't sort out his coaching brain 2 seasons ago. If he left his ego at home and adopted a pragmatic approach to that famous Chelsea match, Rodgers will probably now be the new Manager of Real Madrid on the back of a Premier League win for Liverpool and lucrative move to Spain. Raheem will have a League winners' medal, Luis Suarez will probably not have left and Liverpool's 23 years of hurt would have ended. No. Rodgers was arrogantly pursuing a philosophy. A man who never fails to let everybody know how much of a tactician he is when everything goes right but keeps schtum when it goes pear shaped. Sorry guys, Rodgers is exactly why Raheem Sterling should leave Liverpool and why Raheem has won nothing.

And to all Liverpool fans who think that the owners will play hard ball with Sterling. I can't see that happening. They appear to me to be financially minded business people. The way they allow contracts run to the wire suggest they are people who are loath to load the balance sheet with the financial liabilities that long term contracts bring. I do not see them allowing Raheem go free for nothing in 2016. They will either cash in this summer or latest in January or agree a new deal with what Raheem wants plus a release clause like Luis Suarez' situation.

By allowing the dispute with Raheem into the open space, Liverpool FC have reduced Sterling's sale value and every single day he remains in Liverpool without signing a new contract or Liverpool agreeing to sell him, his value reduces. I don't see the accountants at FSG allowing that.

If you disagree, I would be delighted to hear your views

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