Sterling was thrown in at the deep end at the start of the season because Liverpool had no choice but to play him. Fortunately for the club, he has responded well but he is now suffering the effects of playing so many games while his body still develops.
Rodgers probably would have preferred to wait a little longer before introducing Sterling into the first team. It’s almost a little unfair that he has been subjected to so much pressure at such a young age even though he appears to be relishing it.
Rodgers told Sky Sports:
“There is no doubt Raheem is one who does need that breather. I’ve thought about it over the past couple of weeks.
In order to do that you need to have that depth to take him out and put somebody else in.”
The club should have also sorted out Sterling’s contract situation quicker. He has been subjected to pressure away from the field as much as he has on it.
Constant talk about his future at Liverpool and links suggesting he’s a target for Manchester United would have played heavily on his mind. That constant thought, that negative energy would have taken its toll on a very young man.
Liverpool need to do more in the future to protect players like this at a young age. That way they can be nurtured throughout a season as opposed to playing a lot of games in one period and then forced to play through fatigue when the games start to pile up.
January is turning out to be an even more important month for Liverpool than it needs to be. The club not only need to sign players, squad players, they don’t have, they also need to bring in extra players in positions which are already filled just so key young players can have a rest.