After a pivotal season with Manchester City where we often saw the best of Raheem Sterling, anticipation for his upcoming World Cup campaign with an encouraging England squad is at a high.
Although his finishing has often been scrutinised, Sterling’s progress has been resounding under Pep Guardiola. The excitement to see him translate it onto international performances is something that would have spurred him on in the months leading up to the tournament.
But, recent media speculation (which has been a toxin for the youthful international for much of his career) has tarnished the familiar World Cup buzz.
Shot himself in the foot
The crux of an admittedly moot issue is the tattoo of a rifle draped down Raheem Sterling’s right leg.
That tattoo has caused an influx of outrage, retaliated to by support from a number of seasoned professionals. Many have called for Sterling to get the offending article removed, or at least covered up. However, the Manchester City winger claimed the tattoo has a ‘deeper meaning’.
And who are we to judge his choices? Gun crime and violence, more prominent in the USA than over here in the UK, makes it a controversial decision. However, days before the World Cup the last thing Sterling needs is the often insurmountable pressure the media can place.
The spiral of speculation that followed was needless, but hopefully Sterling doesn’t allow it to affect his displays.
A mere twelve hours after tattoo-gate, news emerged that Raheem Sterling turned up to England training 12 hours late. Awful timing…
Gareth Southgate still proceeded to pick him against Nigeria in the Three Lions’ most recent friendly, which shows the actual problem was far less significant than painted by the media.
It has been a difficult week for Sterling, and this only made it worse—a bad time to have a flight canceled.
After a problematic few days, eyes turned to him in the game versus Nigeria, to gauge whether he had been affected.
Evidence showed he had.
A sub-par display from the former Liverpool man intensifies suggestions he was distracted by the recent negative media attention, and a dreadful dive towards the end epitomised a poor game.
If that is anything to go by, fans can be a little apprehensive of what to expect from Raheem Sterling. He has been a sparkling player this season, but bad publicity looks to have blemished that.
Whether he can recover from the setbacks on the biggest stage still remains unknown, but for a young man this can’t be the sort of preparation that’s healthy before a World Cup.