Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Beautiful Hypocrisy

I'm beginning to wonder if in ten or 15 years time we will be discussing the career of Raheem Sterling as a cautionary career tale for all young footballers. As I previously did here about Nile Ranger, or how many in football discuss the many, many curious transfers of nomadic former French international Nicolas Anelka.

Because, as of right now everything about a fledgling career that was looking extremely good is being diminished with each passing fan comment, journalists tweet and ex-players column. No one is doubting the winger's obvious talent or the difference he made at times to a stuttering Liverpool side but all that work that was applauded on the pitch is quickly being whitewashed by his behaviour off it. And should he fail to meet the potential that was discussed when he was a teenager at Queens Park Rangers, minds more astute than my own will recall this period in his career.

I've never been one to believe the 'it was my agent's fault' stance that we often hear from footballers, sports stars or anyone important enough to require one after the event. In this day and age even the most intellectually challenged sports star is aware of the affect that bad press and feeling can have on their career and their future opportunities. And admittedly while the actual words used by his agent may not have been repeated verbatim from Sterling, the context behind them will be 95% his, because when all is said and done the agent is an employee of the footballer. In this case, that paid member of staff is Aidy Ward.

Of course we could say that the agent is 'filling his head with nonsense' or any of the other meaningless statements that will allow the most tribal of fans to forgive a want away player, but when all is said and done; if the 20-year-old did not want to leave Liverpool then his agent would not be telling all and sundry that he did. There is a big difference between the kind of greedy bluffing we regularly see and a hanger-on, sorry intermediary of the player discussing how he can no longer work with the current manager.

Yes, the player has clearly had some bad advice but it is up to him whether he takes it or not. He felt it was right to partake in the television interview that Ward - I presume - organised for him, just as he has now found it right to allegedly call in sick for pre-season training.

Now I don't begrudge anyone wanting to take a job or a role at a company they feel will allow them to meet their ambitions or earn more money. I mean lets be honest, on paper that is exactly what a football club is, a company and a business like any other. And as much as we like to daydream of days gone by when Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher and John Terry's one-club career was the norm, those days disappeared with the Walkman. That said, if Sterling were a journalist, a newsreader or a television producer and he was being headhunted by what was a bigger company in his eyes - swap recent trophies for audience output - I would have no need to write this blog.

Sadly anyone aware of some of the people working as football intermediary's is not in the least bit surprised by this turn of events and despite what I have said; please do not confuse my distaste at the public nature of the situation with any sympathy for the club. Sterling and Ward may be partaking in the football equivalent of Matt Damon dumping Minnie Driver live on Oprah, but they are merely a product of the way our clubs now do business, or how they've decided to do business in recent years. The only reason we didn't hear about it as much in the past is because the club was the side with all 11 players on the pitch.

But times have changed and while the clubs continue to reject any suggestion of a code of conduct for the transfer of players, they will continue to be harangued into letting their star players depart to the highest bidder. They cannot refuse new rules because they want to nab the stars nearing the end of their contract or those appearing unsettled, and then complain when it happens to them.

Well they can and they will, because that's the beautiful hypocrisy of football.

Maybe someone should ask West Bromwich Albion how they felt about the way Andre Wisdom left the club for Anfield, and whether they have any sympathy for Liverpool's current situation...

As for Ward, well he's merely doing his job. While we may not agree with, or enjoy how he goes about his business, he is merely aiming to complete the tasks set by his employer. If we were looking at earning 5% of any potential fee paid for our boss, wouldn't we all do the same?


  1. Hardly Sterling's fault. He just wants to move clubs.

    And John Terry also played for Forest.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      You're right, he did play for Nottingham Forest. On loan. But he was still a Chelsea player while he played those six games. Just as Beckham was still a Manchester United player while featuring for Preston, and Wilshere was a Arsenal player while featuring for Bolton.


  2. A lot of good points here. Far too easy to blame the shadowy agent, because he's not the one ghosting past defenders to put the ball in the net. There's very little Aidy Ward could do to win back the trust and support of LFC fans (If he even wanted to) - if FSG and Man City dig their heels in and Raheem has to stay, it would be very hard for him, but 2 months of superlative performances would win a lot of fans back over. I personally think his latest outburst is an attempt at fan reconciliation - he can see many fans have turned against Rodgers, so if he can make this mess his fault too, he might win back some support. Sadly for Raheem, it's done exactly that for Rodgers!
    And one more thing before the pedants descend - I think you may mean Jerome Sinclair at the end, not Andre Wisdom.

    1. Hi Mo,

      Thanks for your kind comment. And you are right, I did mean Sinclair and not Wisdom.
      I also agree that if RS stays at Anfield and is their top scorer and Liverpool are challenging for the title at Christmas, several of those boos will be drowned out by cheers. That is the tribal nature of football...