NOTHING for a fortnight and then two in two days? What’s going on Salmon? What happened to this ‘zen-like calm about everything’ that you were waffling on about yesterday?
It’s okay. I’m still calm, still chilled, still absolutely at one with everything and positive about everything to come. And, at this very moment, the specific thing that I’m cool about is Raheem Sterling.
Oh, Raheem. Raheem. You’re a bit daft aren’t you? A bit silly? Bit too sure of yourself? I mean, I rate you, I really do; I think you’re a pretty smart player and all that, probably a bit more instinctive than thoughtful. You’re capable of that goal against Newcastle. You’re capable of that run through the middle against Chelsea. When you don’t have to think, that’s what you’re capable of. When you’re given time to consider your options, when you’re given time to think about things, that’s when you make the wrong choice. Open goals. Open goals all over the place. Making the easy decision seems to be an issue for you.
Just in case you’re wondering Raheem (‘cos I’m sure you’re reading this and I’m sure you’re arsed about what I think) Yes, that IS the heaviest, most obvious, most ham-fisted metaphor in the history of…well, history basically. Thought I’d make it obvious. Thought it might be what you need.
See, me and you are differing on one major fundamental here. Not just me and you, obviously; me and the other 40,000 that go the match and you. We’re differing on this; YOU think you’re the finished article, the rest of us aren’t quite as convinced.
(Obligatory musical aside: I need music in order to write, can’t be doing with silence. Need the right music, can’t be just anything. This is currently coming to you courtesy of Lou Reed’s ‘Street Hassle’. I’ll warn you, it’s not the cheeriest tune on Earth and I’ll need to write this quickly before we hit Metal Machine Music and everything gets nasty)
So, Raheem, sorry, I hadn’t intended to address you directly, really wasn’t going for one of those embarrassing open letter things, didn’t want to be all ‘Piers Morgan’ about the whole thing but, hey, you take what you get, get what the muse gives and all that writerly bollocks — you’ve decided that you don’t really fancy getting on a plane and going off on a pre-season tour with the rest of the lads. At least that’s what ‘reports’ say. And nobody seems to know where these ‘reports’ come from. It doesn’t seem to be ‘Sky Sources’ (ie. Twitter), it’s just reports but they’re all saying the same thing so let’s accept that they’re true shall we? You don’t want to go on tour and you don’t want to be at Liverpool. You’re basically *this* far from doing the ‘going on strike’ thing.
And let’s get this out there right away: I’m not happy with the idea that Benteke might go on strike to come to Liverpool, I wasn’t particularly comfortable with the idea that Adam Lallana was agitating for his move from Southampton in a similar way. I’m not being hypocritical. Not about this. I might be about other stuff but I’ll always hold my hand up and cough to it. Not this though. I’m being consistent with everything that I’ve thought and said about this before.
I’d prefer to keep you, Raheem. I thought that you’d look at Firmino, look at Coutinho, look at Ings (maybe), look at Sturridge getting fit again, look at Nat C and Jimmy Milner *wanting* to be at Liverpool and think ‘you know what? Quite fancy this tbh’ (cos I’m sure all you young people think in Twitter speak all the time) and decide that there was something happening here and you might not know what it is or whether it’d work but maybe it could be nearly as much fun as you had that season that Luis was here and you’re give it a crack. But:
(Soz, Metal Machine Music’s kicked in. At a suitably dark moment as well)
That’s not happening. You and the bloke that’s getting the nice big one-off payday from the move have decided that you’re not doing this. You’ve decided that you’re going to City. Part of me — the part that went on the podcast and said it — wishes you well and gets it, really gets it, gets why you’d fancy City and if I was your mate I’d be sitting there going, ‘Go for it Razzer, lad (presume they all call you that) make a fortune, play in the Champions League, win the league, win trophies’. Just like City did last season. Oh yeah, that’s right. But still. Still kinda get it.
But then there’s the other half of me. The chilled half. The half that thinks that we’ve finally started thinking and acting like a big club at long bloody last, a club that does its business behind closed doors and keeps its gob shut and doesn’t even comment on that business ONCE IT’S BEEN DONE. The half of me that thinks ‘what can we do that’d be a laugh?’
And that half is going:
That half is sitting down with you. Not your agent, not inviting that blert. (Do love the fact that the word ‘blert’ has made a 21st century comeback). That half is sitting down and saying ‘you getting on the plane?’ and when you say no, that half is saying ‘right, you’re training with the kids, we’ll get Pepijn to work on your finishing for a fortnight, see you when we get back’ and as that half turns to leave, it turns back in a Columbo-esque ‘just one more thing’ manner and says ‘and we’re not answering the phone to any bugger’.
I’m split then. I know you’re not staying now, I know that’s not an option anymore so I’m split two ways and I’m not sure which way to go because I’m not sure which way amuses me more.
I can do this: I can ring City and say ‘£60million’. You heard me. Sixty. Yes, I CAN put the price up, can put it up any bloody time I want. Ring me back in 10 minutes and it’ll be 70. Give me until the 1st of August and you’ll have to go out and buy Paul Pogba because I want Pogba AND cash. I am, quite frankly, taking the piss. Because I can and because I feel like it. Because it’s funny and I feel like having some fun.
Then there’s the other way. The way that QPR really won’t like. And they won’t like it because they’re getting no money from it this way.
How much did you cost us Raheem? It’s okay, I know the answer, £600,000. Which rises to £5m depending on appearances. Let’s say it’s five mill then shall we? And you’re on what? £35k a week. We know this, we offered you more and you didn’t fancy it. So. SO. If we don’t get a penny back for you then we’ve probably — and I haven’t done the maths on this because maths isn’t fun and this season, I’ve decided, is all about fun — lost less than we did on Downing. Or Aquilani. Or Big Andy. Or the whole Hodge debacle. And if we sell you we lose 20 per cent of the cash to QPR.
Cool. You’re in the ressies. Enjoy. Rest of your contract, under-21 football. What’s the problem? You’re under 21, that’s where you’re supposed to be isn’t it? And I know, I know, you’re a talented lad — need to work on the whole finishing thing and the thinking thing but still talented — I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face. But — and it’s a massive but this one — It’s MY nose, it’s MY face and I’m prepared to do whatever I want in the name of fun.
What’s that? Buy out the last year of your contract? Cool. that’ll be the 2016-17 bit then? Okay, year in the ressies and then give us best part of £2m in order to go away. Let’s do Python on this: “You’re born with nothing and you die with nothing, what have you lost? Nothing.” We’ll have lost nothing. Spare change. You’ll have spent a year in the stiffs. A pretty useful year in terms of career development. Wasted.
What’s that, Raheem? Vindictive? No mate, I’m not being vindictive. I’m just having a laugh. And you like a laugh don’t you? I’d say that we’d all seen the videos of you having a laugh but someone sold them to that rag didn’t they? Just to piss us off a bit maybe? Didn’t work really, just meant that we feel like taking the piss a bit now.
Quite simple. You’re messing with the wrong guys. You getting on the plane then?
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo