With Liverpool’s increasingly realistic chances of winning the Barclays Premier League this season, it’s highly acceptable for Brendan Rodgers to expect perfection, and throughout the season we have seen glimpses of this in a young 19 year-old Raheem Shaquille Sterling. Yesterday however, was a showcase of a matured Sterling, demonstrating a combination of pace and control up and down the pitch. Previously the focus has been on ‘The SAS’, better known as Suarez and Sturridge, but the versatile winger put on an impressive display further silencing his critics by showing his ability to also play the No.10 role. Initially criticised for lacking composure, Sterling showed a cool head against title rivals Manchester City, selling Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany a body feint, then reversing to sweep the ball calmly into the back of the net in front of the Kop. It was a performance to be proud of with the manager praising the youngster for his continual development and non-stop work ethic during matches.
Evidently Liverpool are currently extremely driven, characterised by the captain, Steven Gerrard’s words after their 3-2 hard-fought victory over City, “We go to Norwich. Exactly the same! We go again!” The leadership qualities that Gerrard possess have unquestionably played a key role in motivating young players to be confident and the same can be said for Raheem. With everyday young men his age studying at University or looking for a job, he illustrates a true ability, playing for a top footballing side and thriving in a good run of form, “It’s every 18-year-old’s dream. I’m just really grateful to be at such a big club like this,”
Looking to the future, success could be closer to home for Sterling if Liverpool continue their winning ways. Having signed a 5-year contract with the club last year, it’s doubtful as to whether he will moving anytime soon and with the added prospect of title hopes and a place in the Champions League next season, the likelihood is that he will focus on advancing with The Reds. There is still development needed, and by no means is Sterling a world-class player just yet, however the raw aspect to his game is shining through and clubs will be keeping a close eye on his progression.
Slowly but surely Raheem will, and is getting the recognition he deserves, with footballing legend Martin Keown describing him as ‘Sensational for Liverpool’ and The Telegraph’s recent article titled ‘Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling was hyped before but now we are not talking about him enough’. It appears that The Reds are harbouring several talents with the likes of another young prospect in Jon Flanagan and their clever purchase of the Brazilian Coutinho in the January transfer window of 2013. What can’t be overlooked here is the potential. Sterling will be one to watch, undoubtedly. With the right training and preparation from Liverpool, there could be an interest sparked world-wide, providing he continues to unveil more of the ‘South-American’ flare within that we have seen from many phenomenal players. It’s a credit to English football on an international scale to have players like Sterling and other teammates such as Lallana who possess a panache and desirable level of skill accompanied with a determination to work hard for the team, creating numerous opportunities to score (Sterling – 7 goals, 3 assists, Lallana – 9 goals, 6 assists).