An Open Letter To Raheem Sterling

Subject: An Open Letter To Raheem Sterling
From: A Liverpool Fan
Date: 13 Jul 2015

Dear Raheem,

It looks like you're finally leaving us, that your games with the media have worked out for you and that you're heading off down the East Lancs Road to play for the second most famous team in the North West's second most famous city. Good luck on your new adventure, no hard feelings, hope it works out for you.

I can't say that I speak on behalf of all Liverpool fans in wishing you good luck and especially not in saying no hard feelings - I've heard lots of things wished on you and luck certainly hasn't been the main one. But still, all good things must come to an end and you've got a new set of fans to try and make happy now. As I say, good luck with that.

Those new fans will probably disagree with the bit about theirs being the second most famous city in the North West, as of course they're entitled to, but it would be hard for them to disagree with the bit about them being the second most famous club in their city. Take money out of the picture for a second - go on, try - and you've kind of moved to Manchester's Everton.

In my experience their fans are actually great people, the vast majority of those I've known down the years have a great sense of humour - they needed one - and a massive amount of humility. No doubt there'll be a new breed of fan infiltrating the old guard, as happens at any club with new found success, those who are only there for the trophies and won't be there to help fight for more if they show any signs of drying up. I can think of a few players like that. On the whole though, you're moving to a club with a great set of fans - but leaving behind a club with a much larger set of great fans.

You probably didn't read it, but your short-lived new team mate James Milner pointed this out earlier in the week. He loved his time at Manchester City and no doubt felt a certain amount of sadness at leaving behind those fans, his friends and so many memories, but already he is talking about "the magnitude" of Liverpool FC and "globally how well that it is known". As he said, Liverpool "is that next level again."

I fully understand where you're coming from in wanting to play at a club where you can win things and play at the highest level with or against the best players in the game. Believe it or not, Liverpool fans want their club to do that too. We're not happy at only winning one trophy in nine years or dropping straight out of the Champions League (when we actually do qualify for it), but we're not about to ditch our Red shirts and scarves and raid one of Mike Ashley's shops to kit ourselves out in sky blue. We'll stay and fight. That’s what we do.

We've not forgotten the heights of the best half-season you had with us, the second half of the 2013-14 season. We'll never forget it, even if there was nothing to show for it in the end. We'll never forget lining Anfield Road as the team bus drove slowly down it through banners dripping with references to this club’s great history and thick smoke from all the pyro as fans sang their hearts out and showed everyone on that team bus exactly what this club is all about.

This club is all about its fans, even if sometimes it seems to completely forget that.

These fans fought for their club when you were still at school, at the Merseyside school you moved to so you could finish your education after Rafa Benitez and Frank McParland had brought you to Liverpool's Academy and given you your break. While you were there, we were marching on Anfield and making ourselves heard around the world and especially on Wall Street. We made sure everybody knew we wouldn't be giving our club up as easily as our then owners and the people they'd put our club in hock to hoped we would.

We fought so that there was still a club there for you to get your big chance at.

If we’d had your kind of fight there wouldn’t be a Liverpool Football Club any more.

You'll see more of our kind of fight soon if Liverpool don't start to find the success that you also claim to be leaving for. You'll see it from a distance, but you'll definitely see it if it's needed.

Of course it might not be needed, and we really hope it isn’t, because it might just be that we go into this season with a squad of players with the hearts and attitude to fight tooth and nail on the pitch for the success these fans crave, instead of a squad scattered with half-hearted types who expect it all handed to them on a plate.

You've almost certainly done us a massive favour, so thanks for that. Your interview with the BBC didn’t just get the ball rolling on you getting your big money move to that club 30 miles away, it highlighted the fact - and it is a fact - that Liverpool are falling way below expectations. It's already quite clear that Liverpool fans won't allow their expectations to be lowered any more than they already have been and the time for excuses has long since passed.

There’s also the £49million fee we’re going to get for you. For all the potential you have – and you’ve plenty of it – you’ve yet to have one good full season in the first team. It could turn out to be a lucrative deal for your new club, if you turn out to be as good as your potential suggests you can be. But it’s more of a gamble for Manchester City than it is for Liverpool. The gamble from our side is whether or not we can spend that windfall wisely.

Owners, managers, coaches and players come and go, some leave on better terms than others, some leave more of a mark than others. In five years’ time will Liverpool fans have much they remember you for in a Red shirt? Nothing you’d like to be remembered for anyway.

You’ll be remembered for holding a balloon and acting like one.

Good luck and goodbye.

Best wishes,

Jim, Liverpool fan