Raheem Sterling is a precocious talent, obviously, but let’s not load him with the burden of being the future of English wing play just yet.
During the commentary for tonight’s game with Anzhi, Clive Tyldesley referred to Sterling as ‘so much more than a promising English winger’. True as that may be, it’s not helpful.
We have a habit in England of suffocating promise with over-expectation, and it would be a crying shame to repeat that with someone of Sterling’s talent-ceiling. Let him play, and let him develop at his own pace – because before long, if the current trend continues, he’ll be expected to rip his opposing full-back apart week after week. That’s not fair on him, he still has a lot to learn about the game – and regardless of the temptation to elevate him into something he isn’t, he must be allowed time to experience the normal peaks and troughs that a young player must go through to fullfil his talent.
First and foremost, Sterling is a Liverpool player – he’s not an England starter in-waiting, not yet. The press, and the country as a whole, have to respect that what he does for his club side and how he’s used within Brendan Rodgers system are the priority for the time being. There’s no need to clamour for his first England cap, because that time will inevitably come – but pushing him onto that kind of stage prematurely could be very damaging.
The best quality Raheem Sterling has, is his utter fearlessness – there are no inhibitions in his game. Let’s not do what we always do and paralyse another youngster with external pressure, let’s try and protect this one.
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