Liverpool winger's u-turn pays dividends for Rodgers

Sterling loan move appears to be off as youngster continues to impress

As 18-year-old Raheem Sterling slotted Liverpool’s fifth goal past Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on Sunday, he may well have considered how quickly things can change in football.

Barely two weeks ago, Sterling was castigated for his performance against HullCity in a 3-1 defeat which seemed to make a mockery of Liverpool’s Premier League ambitions.

However, his performances since that result, against NorwichCity, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur, seemed to reflect a player growing in confidence and stature every week.

Sterling was electric against Spurs, a bundle of youthful energy on the right of Liverpool’s attack, dancing past defenders almost at will and capping his side’s 5-0 win with a thoroughly deserved goal, dispatched past Lloris with the composure of a player beyond his years.

The reason for Sterling’s resurgence must surely come down to his manager. Until recently, Brendan Rodgers had seemed adamant that he would send Sterling on loan during January. Rodgers’ logic was sound enough; Sterling had faded significantly after an explosive start to his Liverpool career and a spell away from Anfield, where he could work on the physical and mental side of his game, seemed the natural next step in his progression.

However, the turning point seemed to come after that defeat at Hull. Sterling faced severe criticism which at his young age could have been psychologically damaging. But Rodgers, rather than dropping the former QPR youngster, retained him for the game against Norwich.

Sterling rewarded his manager with a much-improved performance and a well-taken goal.

That appeared to make up Rodgers mind, and after the win over the Canaries he said: “Raheem has been in the squad, he has featured in a lot of games and he has started the last two so certainly at this moment in time, we wouldn’t be considering (loaning Sterling).”

image: © bernard-chan

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