Liverpool Balls: Raheem Sterling is thin-skinned, dusty and broken
In a game so dull it made you understand why FIFA settled on playing the World Cup on red-hot sand in Qatar, Ireland and England’s draw was remarkable for one thing: a few fans jeered and booed Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling.
“I think he’s going through a bad time publicly,” said England manager Roy Hodgson said. “You can’t expect people just to shrug off the criticism he has been receiving, not least from the local media in Liverpool. That becomes national pretty quickly. He does ever so well and tries well to shrug it off, to let his football do the talking. He needed this game to realise that, if he is going to get it out of his system, he’s going to have to work harder still and get a thicker skin than he has at the moment.
We only took him off today to give others a game, to air the squad.”
If Sterling is letting his football do the talking for him, right now he’s in whisper mode. And we do like the bit about airing the squad, as you would a mattress, cellar or attic. Sterling made way for Andros Townsend, who could have enlivened the moribund affair had he appeared dressed as Miss Havisham or a dusty bottle of wine.
So. Is Sterling going to play for England in Slovenia on Sunday?
“I have no reservations about playing him in Slovenia,” says Hodgson. “I trust Sterling, but players are not robots. He’s done some fantastic things for us, but today he didn’t hit those heights. It’ll take a lot before I and the English national team sway from Raheem Sterling.”
In the meantime, enough with the jering and the booing. Can fans not think up a decent chant to hail Raheem?