Brendan Rodgers has received a much-needed boost after Raheem Sterling revealed he intends to remain at Liverpool for many years to come.
After leading the Reds to a second-place finish in the Premier League last season, indeed just a win away from a first title since 1990, Rodgers has endured a difficult campaign this time round. With Luis Suarez now strutting his stuff in Spain with Barcelona, the Anfield club have struggled for form and currently sit 11th place in the table and already 15 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Scoring goals has been a particular problem for Liverpool, with neither summer signing Mario Balotelli nor Rickie Lambert, or the returning Fabio Borini, yet to score in a combined total of over 1,000 minutes. Daniel Sturridge, who scored 22 times last season, has opened his account, but he injury has restricted him to just three appearances and he won’t return until the New Year.
Sterling, though, has at least been a plus point. The former Queens Park Rangers youngster really burst onto the scene last season, and he has scored three times this term. The forward’s form has seen him linked with Real Madrid in recent weeks, but he has given Rodgers a much-needed tonic by revealing that he intends to remain in the red half of Merseyside for some time to come.
“I am happy to be here for as long as possible. Hopefully I can achieve the goals I want to achieve here at Liverpool in years to come,” said the 19-year-old, who now has 13 caps for England. “I am just happy to play football at this club for many years to come. The club has spoken to my representatives and hopefully something can be done [about a new contract] soon.”
The two matches which cost Liverpool so dearly last season were a 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea, which handed the initiative to eventual champions Manchester City, and the draw at Crystal Palace in which they threw away a 3-0 lead. Jose Mourinho’s side have again won at Anfield this time round, when they came back from a goal down to win 2-1, and Rodgers revisits Selhurst Park on Sunday.
This will give the Reds a chance to exorcise the ghost of last season, and although Balotelli is expected to have recovered from a hamstring problem, Rodgers has indicated that Lambert could finally be given a chance to shine. The former Southampton striker, who scored 13 times for the Saints last season, has made nine league appearances for his new club but only of these has been a start.
But speaking ahead of their trip to the capital, Rodgers said: “Rickie will get an opportunity now. We have so many games in an exciting period and he will feature in those heavily.”
Despite these words, do Liverpool realistically need to finish in the top-four to keep hold of Sterling? Let us know what you think by joining in the discussion below.