Can I ask, as politely as possible, for everyone to get behind Raheem Sterling this season?
I know he isn’t everyone’s favourite player at the club and he by his own admission has not quite hit the heights expected of him yet, but he is a City player and he needs our help.
Raheem has been made the scapegoat for the failure of England at the Euros this summer and a media dominated by ex-Liverpool players have seized the narrative with regard to his move last summer and painted him in a thoroughly unsympathetic light. Why would any player leave Liverpool to join Manchester City? Surely only for the money and certainly not because he was moving to a club which at that time was in a better position to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League titles.
Most of this stuff is the pure pantomime of football today, with its heroes and villains, but it feels like a line has been crossed, in fact more than crossed; some fans tried to point out how far by using the hashtag #BlameRaheem on Twitter to point out how ludicrous it had become.
I had to see it to believe it when I saw firstly the article about a drug dealer who wanted to live a Premier League star’s lifestyle which featured a picture of Raheem, and secondly when a tour around an opulent house he bought for his mother was put on the front cover of a ‘newspaper’ with the ‘Obscene Raheem’ headline; it wasn’t to my taste, but I think I would buy a house for my parents if I could afford it. So from two stories he was accused of insulting all England fans by flaunting his obscene wealth and inspiring drug dealers’ fantasies.
The country may be in disarray but it's nice to see The Sun have got their priorities straight. pic.twitter.com/giMxK00Ycg
— Typical City (@TypicalCity) 30 June 2016
Witnessing these headlines, the only conclusion I can come to is that these stories sell papers and enrage the readership that don’t like the fact that Raheem is rich, young and successful. Being honest there is a long list of players who have forced moves to other clubs over the years and I don’t think any England player covered themselves in glory this summer, yet it’s Raheem who has gotten the biggest stick by far.
I am not sure that at his age I could have put up with this much negative scrutiny. Mistakes were made in the way the transfer came about and the fee hasn’t helped but that is nothing to do with him, just a reflection of the amazing potential the player has. At Liverpool he was an exciting free spirit attacking at every turn, playing across the line and terrorising defences, City bought one of England’s rising stars last summer.
Sadly, following the move, I don’t think Raheem developed much last season under Manuel Pellegrini. He was trying to work in a new team with a different system and lost confidence as our team began to lose points at home and couldn’t buy a win away. My hope is that under Pep Guardiola his youthful confidence will be restored and he will start to develop towards his true potential. He needs some time to grow with the team as they begin a new era – hopefully one he will be at the heart of.
I am no happy clapper and have no problem with someone critiquing a player as long as it is backed up with rational thought and evidence. His weaknesses were obvious as the season progressed and widely discussed and he needs to work on those, but Raheem has so many positives in his locker and at full pelt, with his pace he is a terrifying sight for any defence and that’s what we all want to see more of.
Let’s not climb on his back the first time he is perceived to have made an error. After all, there isn’t much room left with everyone else climbing all over it and I still can’t fathom why he gets booed at every away ground.
All I ask is that you try and bite your tongue or even better, get behind the lad and encourage him. You never know, it might just help.
Written by Richard Donlan
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