Credit Should Be Given To Tired Sterling


When I first read about Raheem Sterling asking for a break during the international fixtures, I thought to myself ‘what a prima-donna’. Imagine a nineteen year old boy moaning about playing too much professional football!

But then I took a step back and I applaud the decision.

Most kids of nineteen have no idea what they want to do with their lives never mind having the expectation of a nation on their shoulders as well as being a star player for a big side like Liverpool to deal with.

This season Liverpool’s whole training structure and mentality has had to change, they now have to concentrate on the Champions league as well as the Premier League. This is a huge step up, especially for a younger player like Sterling. He will have even more exciting games and big time opponents to deal with. That, at his age, can be mentally draining.

If you look into his background, he’s lived almost forty years in his nineteen! Seriously I was tired just reading about his life. Born in Jamaica in December 1994, moved to a huge city like London by the time he was five. Lost his estranged father, who was murdered when Raheem was just nine. Has a young daughter and two court cases to his name. That’s just the personal turmoil and upheaval that we know about.

He also made a move from London club QPR to Liverpool when he was fifteen, for a big fee of £600k that will only rise as he keeps progressing. Plus we also then have to factor in his England debut at the age of seventeen.

Now we are seeing weekly, if not daily, talk about new deals worth £100k plus and teams such as Chelsea and Real Madrid chasing him.

So there is no doubt that the youngster has already had a lot to contend with, both good and bad, in such a short space of time. All the while the media have watched his every move. Commenting on his form, his future and his personal life.

You then have to remember that he’s already made eighty-two appearances for Liverpool, in two and a bit seasons. He’s also been selected eleven times for the ‘Three Lions’. That is a lot for this great young prospect.

In the whole, from a football perspective he’s handled it well and produced some fantastic performances. But both Roy Hodgson (England) and Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool) have a duty to look out and after the player.

Firstly they need to diffuse the club versus country debate thats brewing due to Sterling’s admittance to feeling tired before the Estonia game. The player doesn’t need to see his two managers involved in a petty feud, even if they both insist they have his interests at heart.

Fans of both Liverpool and England, have to be wary of not expecting too much too soon from the nineteen year old either. Just because he has it in his locker to break opposing teams with his pace and tenacity, they will not see it every game at this moment in his career. He will also need a few breaks from time to time as he gets used to the rigours of top class European football.

Also we can’t forget after such a draining campaign last term, he then went to Brazil for his first World Cup. Obviously a privileged experience but also one that takes it out of veterans never mind young players just breaking through.

At Liverpool, they are missing the departed Luis Suarez. Daniel Sturridge has been injured and new boy Mario Balotelli hasn’t set the heather alight with his performances. But the fans and backroom staff can’t assume that Sterling can solve all their problems. At his age, he needs to remain grounded.

People will point the finger and say that Liverpool asked Sterling to take a break with England and for him to talk to Roy Hodgson. I don’t think that is true, but say it was true, that again just proves that Raheem is under too much pressure.

The player could be England’s next great hope and yet another world class star at Anfield. But we need to realise that he still needs time off, especially at his age. We cannot break him before he gets the chance to reach his full potential!

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