Russ Cowper on a media obsession that leaves the rest of us confounded.
A national newspaper thought that Raheem Sterling treating himself to breakfast despite missing out on being crowned the Young Player of the Year award was a newsworthy item. They go on to say he was seen in his £120,000 Mercedes G wagon in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. He looked relaxed though as he finished third behind team mate and good friend Leroy Sane, who no doubt also ate a relaxed breakfast. Across the length and breadth of the land many people also ate a relaxed breakfast despite not even receiving a vote in the competition. I also had a relaxed breakfast of Lidl cereal and treated myself to an all butter croissant with a delicious dollop of real butter and strawberry jam. I received no votes at all which given my age and the fact I’m not a professional footballer is not surprising but it still didn’t stop myself lavishing a huge amount of 35 pence on the croissant.
This really is cutting edge journalism by this national newspaper, although I felt it lacked a comedic angle. Perhaps the journalist in question could do a very important follow up article on which shoe Raheem laced up first, the colour and brand of his underpants and have a tracker fitted to his car so they can track the route he took to the shop where he treated himself to this breakfast. The map could be produced alongside the article with numerous pictures of Raheems £120,000 Mercedes G wagon and a selection of branded underpants so the reader can attempt to understand the full picture. Personally I thought the article could have been more in depth. There was a serious lack of input into why his trousers were tucked into his socks and I think an eminent psychotherapist should have been consulted to see if this sort of behaviour was indicative of players who finished third in the Young Player of the Year award. With my basic counselling skills I can tell from his behaviour that this young man who having won a Carabao Cup and Premier League medal as well as scoring over 20 goals, starring for England, being instrumental in a fine City side was highly traumatised by his good friend and team mate Leroy Sane snatching the Young Player of the Year award away from his grasp. I have sent my card to his agent offering him free 50 sessions of cognitive behaviour therapy to help him over this horrible episode in his life.
Earlier that day Sterling himself had scored in a resounding 5-0 City victory over Swansea as City fans celebrated their third title in 7 years. The fans sang loudly as they have done all season about Raheem Sterling being top of the league. In a season in which Raheem has improved beyond our wildest dreams under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola you can perhaps understand why he needed to splash out on a breakfast treat. Although selfishly and again missed in the article was whether Raheem had just treated himself to breakfast and left his family at home to fend for themselves. This sort of behaviour sums up Sterling – he is out in the leafy village of Alderley Edge where there are more Porsches than people whilst his family sit at home eating leftover porridge from the day before. The t shirt he was wearing emblazoned with a youth motif proves how hypocritical he is. Although hardly being out of his youth his utter contempt for those younger than himself is laid bare for all to see. His great friend and colleague Leroy Sane, the winner of the Young Player of the Year award will no doubt have been shocked at this wanton behaviour of his now ex-friend. Leroy will have sat at home in his leafy Alderley Edge mansion polishing his trophy awaiting his team mate to call round with a croissant and a Costa Coffee latte only to be let down by Raheem’s selfish streak. I cannot imagine the damage this whole sorry episode will do to squad morale as Bernardo Silva finds out he also missed out on a breakfast treat and young Phil Foden sat at home with his mum having his usual coco pops will have been in tears at not receiving any treats at all.
Pep Guardiola will be fuming at this disrespect. He may be Catalan but he will understand that breakfast treats shared around his illustrious squad go a long away in creating squad unity and he will be very disappointed that after his speech to the whole of the MCFC staff including the tea lady at the academy that promoted the importance of togetherness that Raheem has undermined his authority in this appalling manner. Sterling’s selfish behaviour will no doubt have come to the notice of Gareth Southgate and it will be unsurprising if Southgate decides he has no place for this sort of behaviour in the England squad for the upcoming World Cup. If Sterling sneaked out of the team hotel to treat himself to a lavish breakfast I’m sure the likes of Harry Kane will be distraught: he may try to claim the breakfast for himself but ultimately the affront to squad cohesion could be devastating. Southgate will stamp out this errant behaviour, drop Sterling and include the young lady who served Raheem the offending breakfast in his place as a sign to the squad that discipline is a necessary part of being a team player.
The question must be asked, what next for Raheem at Manchester City? Will Guardiola sell him to Curzon Ashton in exchange for 22 full English breakfasts at Greasy Joes café on Ashton Old Road or will he keep him, fine him 6 months wages and bar him from having double sausage and egg McMuffins with a hash brown for the rest of the upcoming season. Some serious disciplinary action must be taken for bringing the club into disrepute at least. I personally would sentence Raheem to spend a month living with Benjamin Mendy whose social media profile will mean Raheem dare not sneak off for a breakfast treat without it being plastered all over Instagram.
In all seriousness these types of articles about Raheem Sterling suggest to me a somewhat sinister attitude among the newspapers hacks. He is a young man who is improving as a footballer and has had a superb season scoring goals for fun. His pace is electric, his close control has improved ten-fold and his spatial awareness improves game by game. He has winners’ medals, is full of confidence and comes across as a decent young man happy in his work and more importantly in his life. With England at the World Cup he could be a player who takes England far into the tournament while at City he could be an important player for the next ten years and go on to be a modern great. Yet for whatever baffling reason the occasional journalist has ulterior motives and wishes to do him down.
I personally cannot imagine why a journalist would stoop to write some of the appalling stuff Raheem has been on the end of. They truly are the gutter press.
Meanwhile “Raheem Sterling, he’s top of the League”