Andrew Ryan argues that the hate against Raheem Sterling has been unfounded.
Professional football players have a terrific job. They get to play one of the best sports in the world for an awful lot of money in front of people that worship the ground that they walk on. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Premier League, players can experience a level of criticism that all of the money cannot hide. Enter Raheem Sterling.
The Manchester City winger has endured a massive amount of criticism since he moved to the Etihad Stadium. As a Liverpool academy graduate, Sterling displayed all the skill in the world to become a pivotal player in the Merseyside club’s revival under Brendan Rodgers. Unfortunately for Liverpool, a poor 2014/15 season, coupled with the departure of Luis Suarez, resulted in Sterling’s departure from Anfield to Manchester City.
Since then, Sterling has been booed by Liverpool fans when lining up against them for City, as well as criticism from the press whenever his performances have dipped below the expectation which has come with his £49 million price tag.
It’s not just for City that he receives such abuse. Much like so many players when playing for England, Sterling received a mountain of criticism, in particular after England drew 1-1 with Russia at Euro 2016, leading to him labelling himself #TheHatedOne.
Sterling, at only 22, is an obviously talented player and could be a star performer for both England and Manchester City in the future. Unfortunately, this level of criticism levelled at a young player will take a toll. Ironically enough, it was not long ago when Sterling was performing well under Pep Guardiola and the press was singing his praises.
Of course, he is not the only player that needs to handle such criticism. Marouane Fellaini has received an almighty level of hatred from United fans online, as well as criticism from the press. Paul Pogba, Daniel Sturridge, Joe Hart, and so many others have felt the burn of press abuse.
A lot of this can be put down to the amount of money involved. After all, Sterling did move for a massive £49 million, which is a HUGE figure for a player of his age who isn’t considered to be at a level to justify the pricetag. However, the price is not his fault or the fault of any player who moves for inflated fees. Not only that, but the resentment towards players who earn a truckload of money is largely based on jealousy. This is not an ideal world, and Sterling shouldn’t be begrudged for accepting a wage that any of you reading this would accept.
The most fascinating part of this whole situation is that it is a largely English phenomenon. The English press and English footballing fans can be an incredibly vindictive and unforgiving bunch, yet the pundits in England wonder why the Premier League cannot attract the world’s best players anymore.