Did Raheem Sterling turn into a ‘monster’ at Anfield?

Date published: Wednesday 13th November 2019 12:00

Raheem Sterling Joe Gomez Manchester City Liverpool

Monster Mash
There are many, many articles about Raheem Sterling in the media as the dust refuses to settle on this scuffle, but there are certain headlines that demand attention and this is definitely one:

‘Liverpool created the Raheem Sterling monster, but the Reds are the real big winners’

‘Monster’? That is an incredibly weighty word to use in a headline for an article aimed exclusively at the fans – on Liverpool.com – who have vilified him.

Kristian Walsh begins his clearly well-intentioned piece by saying that Sterling ‘is a player, and a person, Liverpool fans should admire’ and that ‘he possesses characteristics which should be celebrated on Merseyside’. It is quite a brave stance to take with a Liverpool audience, but there is that troublesome ‘monster’ word in the headline.

But perhaps he means that the story is a ‘monster’, growing to a powerful and frightening size.

No. He is literally calling Sterling a ‘monster’, or at least describes him as an ‘almost monster-like figure’ during Sunday’s clash.

Really? ‘Almost monster-like’.

‘He also committed more fouls than any other player on the pitch with three, visibly becoming angrier as the game progressed. As the hostility increased, so did this overwhelming sense of Sterling’s emotions being ready to explode.

‘First, he reacted to Joe Gomez’s challenge, squaring up with the centre-back; later on, in stoppage time, he produced a late challenge on Virgil van Dijk which he was lucky to escape censure for.

‘This was not the Raheem Sterling who had become so pivotal to Manchester City, who has developed composure in his game. Composure was clearly absent. Instead, he had become this almost monster-like figure, possessed with proving his former club wrong and quieting the boos.’

Now Mediawatch watched the game and does not remember this version of Sterling. We remember him squaring up to Gomez (who was actually the aggressor in that situation) – described in live coverage on The Guardian website as ‘Sterling wins a free kick and then has a bit of a row with Gomez’ and even in the Liverpool Echo as ‘Gomez fouls Sterling on the left and there’s some friction between the pair’ – but we do not recognise their description of a player who had become ‘possessed’.

And why do we not recognise it? Because we’re not Liverpool fans and we don’t need justification for our treatment of a player just because he left our great club.


Exhange rate
The Mirror website knew exactly what they were doing with this headline…

‘Raheem Sterling warned Joe Gomez ‘don’t f**k with me’ during heated exchange’

…about the on-pitch clash between Sterling and Gomez that we all actually watched.


Court gesture
The Daily Mirror‘s Chief Sports Writer Andy Dunn makes it very clear what he thinks of Gareth Southgate’s decision to punish Joe Gomez – and he is entitled to his opinion – but this line is a little bizarre:

‘The punishment handed out to Sterling was a gesture designed to show that developing players – normally developed through the junior teams in which Southgate puts so much faith – have the same rights as established stars.’

Or alternatively, the punishment handed out to Sterling was a gesture designed to show that attacking a teammate in the canteen is not really acceptable.


Start from scratch
So how did Joe Gomez get that scratch under his eye?

‘Gomez left with a scratch below his right eye after being grazed by Sterling’s jewellery’ – The Sun.

‘The emotions from Sunday’s game reignited, resulting in Sterling grabbing Gomez by the throat and scratching the Liverpool defender under his right eye’ – Daily Mail.

‘Sterling is still simmering from his row with Gomez at Anfield, reacts badly and pulls him in where the scratch might have happened’ – Daily Mirror.

‘It was then that Sterling is said to have “lost it” with Gomez, reaching out to grab him, which is when the scratch must have happened’ – The Times.

‘It is understood that the scratch that was later apparent under Gomez’s right eye during Monday’s training session could have come from one of those trying to separate the two’ – Daily Telegraph.

Are we all just guessing now?


‘PSG ‘want Kylian Mbappe replacement’ as Liverpool transfer rumours persist’ is the headline on the Liverpool Echo.

They ‘persist’ purely because you keep ‘persisting’ with them.

“No chance,” is what Jurgen Klopp said. He may well have been referring to the likelihood of the Echo not feeding #Mbappe2020.


Liverpool transfer Liverpool transfer
Obviously, Liverpool transfer gossip is pretty much the best transfer gossip of all. Which is how we get to this from the Daily Star:

‘Liverpool make Ryan Fraser transfer decision ahead of January window’

Is not being remotely interested in something a ‘transfer decision’? Have Liverpool also made a ‘Memphis Depay transfer decision’? And a ‘Frazier Campbell transfer decision’? And a ‘Raheem Sterling transfer decision’? Now that would get the clicks…


Emery bored
Mark Irwin, The Sun, November 12: ‘UNAI EMERY has until the new year to turn things around at Arsenal. Club executives believe the next four Premier League games against Southampton, Norwich, Brighton and West Ham are a golden opportunity to lift the mood at the Emirates.

‘But it is the five games from mid-December to January 1 — which include meetings with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United — that will decide Emery’s fate.’

There is a responsibility that comes with writing such things as they inevitably end up here…

Daily Express, November 13: ‘Man Utd could get Unai Emery sacked by Arsenal as Gunners chief issues five-game ultimatum.’


Where’s Ole?
‘Man Utd squad fly out to Dubai for warm weather training – without Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’ – Mirror website.

Oooooh. Controversial.

If only Alex Milne had leaned over and asked colleague Gareth Bicknell about this mystery: he could have told him that Solskjaer was attending the UEFA Elite Coaches Forum.

Insert your own joke here about how Solskjaer somehow wangled an invite.


Toasted boffin
‘Bergwijn is thought to be wanted by Manchester United’s transfer boffins but is only willing to move on if he is to play at the highest level’ – Mirror website.

Have we reached the stage where anybody who works in football who does not actually play football is now a ‘boffin’?


Recommended reading of the day
Adam Bate talks to the first female Academy boss

Richard Jolly talks to David Nugent

Barney Ronay nails the whole Sterling/Gomez affair


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