Brendan Rodgers calls for Liverpool fans to support Raheem Sterling
Brendan Rodgers says Raheem Sterling "is being led by his representative" and deserves the support of the Liverpool fans at Stoke on Sunday.
The 20-year-old’s name has been splashed over the back pages all week which culminated in a scheduled meeting with his agent, Rodgers and chief executive Ian Ayre being canceled after the club took issue to comments made by his representative Aidy Ward.
Suggestions on Monday that the youngster would not sign a new deal appeared to be confirmed on Thursday when an astounding report was published in the London Evening Standard in which the newspaper claimed Ward had said Sterling would not even accept £900,000 a week from the Reds.
However, Rodgers was full of praise for the winger and does not believe he should be criticized by the fans.
"My message to the supporters would be: ‘Look, this is a young boy who in my time as manager has given the football club everything,"’ Rodgers told national newspapers.
"He was thrust into the team at 17 years of age. In the following period he has been exceptional for me. He has had dips in form and performances but only because his standards are so high.
"He’s a young man who has obviously passed on his career to other people and, unfortunately, whether people perceive it as right or wrong, he is being led by the representative.
"But the young boy I see on a daily basis and who I work with is still the same boy who wants to learn and I think the supporters will just continue to show what they always do, which is wonderful support for every player in the Liverpool shirt."
Rodgers has not given up hope of getting Sterling to sign a new contract but he would prefer to achieve it in a much less public way than has happened so far.
Liverpool’s annoyance peaked with them pulling the plug on Friday’s get-together and Rodgers would like things to be done out of the public glare.
"It’s very difficult to comment on what other people speak about but we’ve always been very clear here at Liverpool – if we have any meetings or discussions to take place, whether it’s with players, manager or whatever, it’ll all be dealt with internally," he said.
"We don’t like to publicize what we’re going to do. We just look to do it in-house and as privately as possibly can be.
"The concentration for myself is to continue to improve Raheem as a football player."
Liverpool – or more significantly the owners Fenway Sports Group – have drawn a line in the sand, having effectively pointed to their handling of Luis Suarez when he tried to manufacture a move away in 2013, and will not be bullied by the player or agent.
"Raheem has two years left (on his contract) and I expect him to see that two years through and continue to behave as immaculately as he has done," added Rodgers.
Rodgers is set to meet owners FSG for an end-of-season review and asked if he feels reassured co-owners John Henry and Tom Werner will stick by him and ask him to lead the club next season following that review, Rodgers replied: "Yeah, yeah. 150 per cent."