A sad truth has become glaringly obvious: Liverpool’s season is in disarray and any hope of success is gone.
Those who say two cup wins (possibly) represent a successful season are dreadfully misguided. In the professional era, how many elite clubs consistently play their best eleven in cup competitions? The reality is that British domestic cups have been severely degraded and are now no more than an opportunity to give the reserves a game.
However, now that the current season is beyond repair, Liverpool must start looking to the future in their remaining five fixtures.
The future is Raheem Sterling, and he must start Liverpool’s next league game.
Currently, Sterling’s Liverpool future is up in the air amid reports from the Daily Mail that Tottenham are closing in on the Queens Park Rangers product. He is allegedly struggling to settle on Merseyside and is considering his future.
The Daily Mail is also reporting that Sterling’s management team is upset and is claiming the club has broken promises over Sterling’s first team involvement.
Recent Liverpool managers have shown an unwillingness to play talented youngsters, and in particular, attacking players. This has led to the club losing many talented youngsters, the most notable being Dani Pacheco, a graduate from Barcelona’s La Masia Academy. The club cannot afford to go down the same path with Sterling.
To keep alive any hope of retaining Sterling, he must be given the chance to make his full Liverpool debut this season. This kid has been touted as the most talented youngster in Britain. He has been scoring goals for fun at age-group level. This includes the "famous five" he scored for Liverpool in an FA Youth Cup match against Southend.
But more importantly, Sterling brings things to the Liverpool side which have been absent all season: pace, skill and an X-factor.
While being defensively solid for the large part, Liverpool has been pitiful in the final third. They have lacked penetration and creativity and finish like a non-league side. They have simply forgotten how to score.
While playing Sterling makes perfect sense, Kenny Dalglish has been prickly when asked about his lack of playing time. From the Daily Mail:
“You earn the right to a run out by what you do on the pitch, not by what is said in newspapers.”
How can Sterling show his wares if he is not given time on the field? He is a dominating force at youth level but is yet to be given a berth in the first team. In his brief cameo against Wigan, his play was energetic and he always looked threatening.
Sterling can play out wide, up front, or, in behind the striker. I see the ideal fit for him being on either side of the "3" in a 4-2-3-1 formation. There, he would offer width but also be free to cut in and attack the goal. Partnered with Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, Sterling would wreak havoc on opposing back lines.
Results are now irrelevant. It is time to throw this kid in at the deep end to see how good he really is.