By Sam Diss
It’s one fit for a sunset pic and some cursive text overlay, but the point remains: If you love someone, set them free.
Don’t Liverpool fans realise that Steven Gerrard’s greatest failing in his career was his inability to let go of Liverpool? Romantic, yes, but it’s misguided: forced to stay at a club he knows he can do better than out of sheer loyalty to the badge, fans and city, Gerrard’s career never scaled the heights it deserved because of this.
He might not love them the same way – nor they him – and he doesn’t encapsulate the spirit of Liverpool’s fight and character like Stevie G, but Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling deserves a chance to spread his wings and head away from Anfield.
Why would you want to keep him anyway? A great player, yes, but keeping someone who doesn’t want to be there is a recipe fit for disaster. You could get a decent figure for him, a fee that could be distributed to cover the cracks elsewhere – centre-back, full-back, striker, likely manager – so why the hatred?
The ill-feeling has permeated from the Kop to the fans of the national team as he was booed into submission in England’s excruciating nil-nil with Ireland, and this is the worst thing: Self-sabotaging fans across the land are reinforcing the national side’s failings by letting personal grudges colour their support.
Raheem Sterling is one of the most naturally-talented footballers England has produced in a decade or more; a fleet-footed, attacking, creative talent the likes of which most countries would kill for… And yet. And yet his perceived arrogance, self-interest and greed means that he’ll never be taken into the hearts of fans – fans who would prefer him remain a big fish in a small pond until everything that made him special evaporates than have a crack at something bigger and perhaps better.
Sterling’s heart isn’t in Liverpool anymore. You can’t make him love you, and the resentment brewed from the dispute will only further affect a Liverpool side in desperate need of a transition.
It’s time to let him go.