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7 Nov 2014

Legend warns: 'Dazzling' £31m star has 'lost his way' at LFC. Blame Lallana, Gerrard etc, not Sterling

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At the tender age of 19, Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling is already an integral part of Brendan Rodgers' team, and given his regular excellent performances, it's likely he'll remain a fixture in the first XI for the foreseeable future. Until, that is, he starts to attract the attention of Europe's big guns, and former LFC midfielder Jamie Redknapp believes it's only a matter of time before Real Madrid enter the fray.

With only one goal in the last ten games, £31m-rated Sterling (a ludicrous valuation) is not currently delivering on his immense promise, and according to ex-Reds boss Roy Evans, it's a problem that needs urgent attention.

Speaking to TalkSport this week, Evans explained:

"He [Sterling] lost his way a little. He needs to go back to being really positive and maybe [BR should] play him where he feels really comfortable. All young players lose a bit of confidence. He hasn’t been at his best but there is plenty more to come from him.”

Evans is right about Sterling's loss of form, but to be honest, I couldn't care less if he's not performing at the moment. Sterling is only 19, and he shouldn't be under such intolerable pressure to be LFC's saviour.

Obviously, Sterling is paid to contribute goals and assists, and I'm not absolving him of responsibility for contributing to the casue, but the the more experienced likes of Henderson, Allen, Lallana, Lambert, Borini, Balotelli, and Gerrard are the players who really need to feel the fire.

Their collective failure is one of the principal reasons Liverpool are struggling, and if they'd actually stepped up this season, and done what they're paid to do, the club would not be flailing in mediocrity right now. Looking at the facts, it really is quite pathetic:

* Gerrard et al have scored only FOUR goals from open play all season.
* Gerrard has scored only one goal from open play in over a year.
* Fan-favourite Jordan Henderson has contributed a miserable 1 goal in 14 games.
* Balotelli, Borini, and Lambert have managed only two goals between.
* Lallana is delivering a Joe Allen-level of creativity, i.e. offering next to nothing.

These are experienced players we're talking about here! They're all much older than Sterling, and they've singularly failed to take responsibility this season. As such, the pressure to perform needs to be on them.

Sterling should be left to develop without the counter-productive hype and overblown expectation (much of which is irresponsibly fuelled by Rodgers)

As for playing Sterling where he's 'really comfortable' - in an a recent interview, the youngster revealed his favoured position.

"I prefer the No 10 position. Every time I get in there I try to take the responsibility of creating and scoring goals. I enjoy that".

Some of Sterling's most effective performances have come from the number 10 position (either as a starting role, or drifting into that role during a game), and in the diamond formation - which seems to serve Liverpool well - Sterling is (arguably) the most effective player for the role.

Ironically, though, the one thing that works against Sterling is his pace. Given blistering speed, there will always be a temptation to play him out wide, and it makes sense to play the fastest attackers on the wing.

Pace is not a pre-requisite for success in the number 10 role, and Rodgers - like many managers - may feel that playing Sterling there every game may mean Liverpool losing the benefit of his electrifying pace.

Pace notwithstanding, Sterling is arguably a perfect fit for the role, and I'd like to see him given a run of games there. Alas, Rodgers maddening insistence on sticking with 4231 means that he'll probably have to make do with playing on the wings.



  1. As good as Sterling is i hope they dont burn him out ala Michael Owen who i reckon was finished by the time he had gone to Spain.
    Although in Sterlings defense he does not suffer back related hamstring problems.

  2. He should be having no more than a supporting role in our offence, with Balotelli and Sturridge the key protagonists. Heck, Lallana and Lambert should also be contributing more.

    It's testament to how blunted we are in attack that Sterling is being viewed the same way Owen was, minus the lethal finishing.

    Then again, a midfield as slow as ours means Sterling will usually run the ball on his own without adequate support, especially when Balotelli isn't anywhere near the penalty area!

  3. Sorry to all you Stirling supporters, I really don't rate him as he never contributes any thing to the game, Yes he can run but that's it, Cant dribble, cant head, cant cross a ball, the goals he scored last season came from Luis Suarez, Send him back to the under 21 team or loan him out and let him prove himself without the media hyping him up to be the best thing since Owen.

  4. For me Sterling is being used in the false nine role that Suarez had last year. So those games where Suarez was not necessarily scoring heaps of goals and Sturridge was played through the middle, that's what Sterling is doing now. I guess it tends to push him a bit wide but here's something I think is very important: if a player ends up deep and wide and doesn't get enough time in the box it's not necessarily because they are being asked to play deep and wide. Suarez didn't have trouble coming deep or wide on both flanks and still being on the end of balls into the box, he just worked incredibly hard and did it all. Perhaps it's a high benchmark but I think it's what Sterling and Balotelli should be trying to do. Yes, it's hard, you have to run much more, time your runs better and rely on team mates to get the link-up right but the point is that it's achievable. It's not impossible.

    Aspas suffered in exactly the same way. He was used to being a high-position target man only playing in advanced areas. But when he came to Liverpool he was assigned a much higher work rate. He found it hard. It wasn't that he didn't have the skills for link-up play, I think he showed that well enough in the games that he played, but what he struggled with was the work. He had to run more and he just didn't quite do it. He did the link up work but couldn't get into the box to be a true scoring threat.

    Maybe Suarez is a freak and being able to come deep into your own half and still get on the end of a play to score the goal is something only he and a few select other players in world football can do. Maybe. But Sterling has great pace and great skill and if anyone can achieve that kind of work load I think it's him. I think he's precisely the one player in the Liverpool team who CAN fill that role and do it well, but of course he's only 19 and it's absurd to put so much responsibility on him. In the meantime I think Lallana, Markovic and Balotelli should also be able to work in this way and there is no question that we should be seeing ALL these players contribute. They're not. The whole team is struggling.

  5. Completely agree. Sterling hasn't so much lost his way as had a normal dip in form that most young players have. People seem to forget that this is really his first year as an out and out 1st team starter. They need to give the guy a break and let him get on with his football. His good form will return.

  6. I agree with the article 100%. The over reliance on Sterling is so unhealthy, I expected much more from Lallana. Henderson has regressed compared to last season & the striking issue is what it is because of BR's "calculated risk". I think Coutinho is slowly showing some form, but until try changing the tactics we will remain very blunt.

  7. Never mind Sterling - make sure we give Jose BIG MOUTH a hard time tomorrow - last year he was arrogant AND disrespectful =cant stand the guy

  8. I can only assume you are talking about a different player called "Stirling" because you surely can't be talking about Raheem Sterling of Liverpool. If it wasn't for his good form earlier in the season who knows how many points we'd have now.

  9. that guy just makes me really angry

  10. He does look a bit out of sorts recently tho

  11. A touch unfair on Lallana. He has scored one goal in less games than Henderson which statistically significant if nothing else.

  12. Special one- special my arse! He inherited a ready made team and added a couple of players who played well against 'my chelsea' . One thing he can't stand is a player playing well against them -special pain more like

  13. id like to see him play as a striker whilst we're waiting for Studge to return. Don't think we have much to lose given the goal scoring output from the main strikers.

  14. A front three of Sterling (No.10 role), Balotelli and Borini may not be what we dreamed of but it's probably the best we have right now. Play the diamond formation in midfield and if Gerrard isn't working as the DM, put Can in.

  15. This the same lad who outperformed Suarez and Sturridge in the run in last year? Have you only seen him a couple of times is that it?

  16. Been reading a report on Balo 'try and then buy' where it wouldn't cost us much to move him on if it doesn't work out

  17. Honestly, BR is to blame for under performance. All these players are of good quality and collective failures means something is wrong with the system they are playing in. BR has to get it right soon, both in terms of team formation and team selection. Time is really ticking for BR and I hope we turnaround starting tomorrow. It will be difficult for the team when media, pundits and others call for BR's head.

  18. I like him when he plays the way he played against Spurs last season at White Harte lane he tormented sht spurs defence.

  19. It is obvious why Sterling is out of form. Rodgers has played him too much and he has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. I really hope we rest him for a few games otherwise we could be looking at the next Owen. A fit and firing Sterling playing for lesser games is better than a burned out Sterling playing all the games.

  20. Also a bit harsh on Borini being he has hardly played a game for us this season. I believe Borini should be given a run in the side because if nothing else, he offers the energy up front we've been lacking.

  21. The system is no different than last season. What is the problem is the lack of pace up front that we had last season. Sturridge being out is obviously a problem for us as Balotelli offers no pace at all. Balotelli I think will get better when Sturridge is in as he seems to need another striker to do all the running.

  22. Rodgers will just go with Balotelli up on his own again.

    I am glad you are also annoyed seeing Rodgers stick with 4-2-3-1 Jaimie.

    It will be quite simple for Chelsea. All they need is to get is one goal and then let LFC keep all the possession as we ain't going to trouble their defence.

  23. Can't help but feeling that the reason why Rogers is sticking with the 4-2-3-1 formation with Bollo upfront on his own (when it is clearly not working) is that he's trying to prove a point to the club hierarchy. From the comments over the summer its clear that Buck did not want Ballo, but we ended up signing him as he was one of the few *decent strikers that were available. Somehow the selection has been foisted on him and now he is trying to demonstrate that he's not up to it (and by inference the club should have bought one of the targets Rogers suggested?). Its a dangerous game to play, but with the effectiveness in front of goal of Borini and the mobility of Lambert being issues.... what choices does he have? That said, I would have thought he would have tried a Sterling/Ballo front two in a diamond to see if that would work - packing the midfield with Gerrard, Can, Hendo and Couts

  24. This season the system is no different then last season :-O We clearly have been watching a different team this season.

    We have another striker who can do the running, his name is Borini but Rodgers plays him as a lone striker too :-O

    To try and rely on Sturridge for fitness is the same as winning the lottery but Rodgers will continue to let Balotelli struggle up on his own.

  25. If he keeps trying to prove that point, he'll be out of a job.

    To be honest, part of me hopes that you're right because then it would at least make some semblance of sense as to why he's doing it and he's not completely lost out there.

  26. International coming up let's see how Hodgson 'stakes' him out to be picked clean yet again- Oi Hodgson he's 19 get off his back

  27. In which matches has Sterling been used as a false 9 this season?

    Vs Spurs this season he played at the tip of the diamond with Balotelli and Sturridge ahead of him. I have posted the image below before, Sterling vs Newcastle was playing out wide. He may not be in the image but i have marked with a red circle where he was deployed and produced yet another very poor performance.

    It is clear that the system which Rodgers wants the team to play this season is completely different to the one we saw last season.

  28. I really hope we don't sit back in a counter-attack like we've been doing. It just hasn't worked this year.

  29. Mourinho has already figured it out. He does not have to wait for LFC to make a mistakes this time though. He knows that we are nowhere near on the same attacking level as what we are last season and Mourinho knows Balotelli is not a striker capable of leading the attack as he has managed Balotelli before :-)

    Mourinho will also be smiling when he sees a back four containing Johnson, Skrtel and Lovren.

    Like iI said, Mourinho just has to ask his team to get one goal and then shut up shop. Mourinho is not coming to Anfield with all guns blazing...

  30. Wouldn't you expect more of Lallana ? I surely would. Especially if that comparison is with Henderson.

  31. Rogers has lost the plot this year....spent big on players we didnt need .keeps playing a system that doesn't work,drops players who play well,accommodates players who dont,one minute hes praising a player the next hes criticizing him its got the feel of an english summer farce

  32. Yet i am told I am like a brick wall by Pete :-O

    Our manager is making a mockery pout of this our club this season and we have some rose tinted glasses floating around.

    Chelsea awaits...

  33. and in the mean time Sterling has also been played as a false number 9 :-O

  34. Nevergonnacrackthecode6:04 pm, November 07, 2014

    Shortlist to replace rodgers:
    * De Boer
    * Klopp
    *rudi garcia
    *villas boas
    * Martinez

    One of these managers de boer and rudi garcia seem realistic

  35. Guus Hiddink?

    I do not want Rodgers sacked but he is making me very mif with the rubbish football being played which is down to him.

  36. Nevergonnacrackthecode6:10 pm, November 07, 2014

    hiddink is struggling with holland
    if fsg policy is young managers who play good football
    de boer,garcia,klopp and conte have to be targets

    my choice is conte
    it might eb hard to get him of italy though most realistic de boer

  37. FSG policy is not young managers i.e. Hodgson and Dalglish. FSG are after success and it is not forth coming at the moment.

  38. Nevergonnacrackthecode6:16 pm, November 07, 2014

    simeone i presume is not leaving any time soon
    it is known fact de boer almost joined spurs
    klopp and dourtmount could be coming to an end bayern are destroying their league
    rudi garcia and conte are in the most corrupt country related to football and might want a chance at managing in a big league

    simeone leaving atleti for lfc would be a step down for him

  39. Nevergonnacrackthecode6:16 pm, November 07, 2014

    well hiddink has not had success for a long time
    unlike conte or klopp

  40. I presume Martinez is the Everton manager? All of the rest bar Klopp are strange selections- besides we beat Ski 3-0 and BR will be un-sackable

  41. Hiddink has more experience than any of the other managers you have mentioned plush he did really well with Chelsea.

    As for Benitez, please keep him as far away as possible from this club but anyway, there is no way FSG will appoint him anyway.

  42. Nevergonnacrackthecode6:24 pm, November 07, 2014

    yeah martinez would be awesome if it did happen

  43. Nevergonnacrackthecode6:25 pm, November 07, 2014

    yeah borini hat trick

  44. Nevergonnacrackthecode6:27 pm, November 07, 2014

    maybe joachim lowe would leave Germany
    it makes sense to leave on a high look at what happen to scolari and del bosque

    if we did get him it would be our most important signing ever

  45. Nevergonnacrackthecode6:32 pm, November 07, 2014

    *De Boer
    * Klopp
    *rudi garcia

    i have reduced the names now

  46. I agree. Sterling is a striker who has been converted to a winger for some reason. BR said Sterling played as a striker in the youth teams......well hold on...... Raheem is only 19 so that means he must have played as a striker for most of his childhood. Return the boy where he is good because he is only an average-good winger at best. He has nowhere near the potential Barkley does in any midfield role and will never be able to carry us creatively. His gift is his movement of the ball, his finishing and pace. Exactly what we're lacking up top ....... If I were asked.

  47. I would hope for more yes but that wasn't my point.

  48. I agree Rodgers should play Borini more. And no, I have been watching Liverpool this season and for the most part Rodgers is trying to get them playing the same style as last season, the fact that up front we have been blunt isn't necessarily down to Rodgers. Balotelli clearly doesn't suit our style of play but the reason we got so many goals last season is because of the running and interchanging that Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling did, which hasn't been there this season.

  49. And why do we want to sack Rodgers? I for one don't. Yes we aren't playing well at the moment, but you have to remember that we have quite a few new players who need to adjust to our system. We need to support Rodgers, last season he had us playing the best football in England, if not Europe and yet you want him sacked now? How fickle some fans are.

  50. Here's one for you, Brendan Rodgers, took Liverpool to 2nd last year while having the team play the best football in England, if not Europe. In other words, support our manager.

  51. But you see this is why the system last season worked


    Now please explain to me in what shape or form has Rodgers lined his team in such a way this season? The only match was Spurs


    Sturridge is injured at the moment and we cannot rely on his fitness so what would be wrong with trying this?


    Not Rodgers. He will persist with an out of form Sterling on the wing who is far more dangerous playing centrally and persist with Balotelli up on his own when he clearly is not capable of leading the attack on his own.

    Yes it is easy for me to sit here and write about how Rodgers should be doing things but fact is that whatever he is doing has failed time and time again. Get the man spectacles.

  52. You say that, but for large parts of the season last season, Rodgers played with Coutinho in the #10 with Sturridge and Sterling out wide and Suarez through the centre. Sure he also changed it up sometimes and played 2 up front, but much of the season was 4-3-3.