OpinionJohn Aldridge

Sterling silver to fund Reds' top-four push

John AldridgeBy John Aldridge
Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling

LIVERPOOL should try and drain Man City for every penny after they launched their predictable push to sign Raheem Sterling – and if they can get more than £40m to offload a troublesome character, they will have done a great deal.

It has been clear for some time now that Sterling has had his head turned by his agent and he has been told about the riches he can get if he leaves Liverpool – now the poker game is underway.

Liverpool have been here before when they were selling Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez to clubs willing to pay whatever it took, so they have experience of this.

The difference between the sale of Suarez to Barcelona last summer and this move for Sterling is that Liverpool are more than likely to come out on the better end of it, because no-one knows how Sterling is going to develop.

To spend all that money on a potentially good young player is a huge gamble on City’s part and that is why I say any deal between £40m and £50m would allow Liverpool to emerge from this whole sorry saga with their dignity intact. Sterling and his agent will end up very rich, but let’s see where the player is in a few years.

I have watched Sterling develop since he was 15 and he always looked like a classy player in the making, but I’m sure Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips looked just as good when they burst through the ranks and got into the England team.

Potential cannot be compared to proven quality and City will have to hope Sterling develops his raw talents because they could be looking at an expensive mistake if he fails to hit the ground running when the pressure is on next season.

Talking of pressure, how about those opening few fixtures that were handed to Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool?

I reckon Alex Ferguson came out of retirement and was up to his old tricks and influencing the Premier League officials when Liverpool were handed away matches against Stoke, Arsenal and Man United in the first six games!

Rodgers was already under huge pressure, but I hope Liverpool look at the fixtures as an opportunity to change the mood around the team rather than fearing what might happen.

Getting Stoke first up is fantastic in my eyes. That 6-1 drubbing on the final day of last season will be fresh in all Liverpool minds as they return to the Britannia Stadium and if the players have any balls, they will be determined to win.

The Arsenal and Man United games will be tough, but the consolation is that home games against Bournemouth, West Ham and Norwich are all winnable in the opening month of the season and Brendan will need victories in those games to keep his critics at bay.

It is clear that the Anfield bosses demanded that heads would roll after the disappointing campaign that just finished, with Brendan’s assistant Colin Pascoe and coach Mike Marsh the scapegoats.

I feel sorry for Pascoe and Marsh. They are just doing as the manager tells them and from talking to people around the club, they are especially disappointed to see Marsh lose his job.

Liverpool have a tradition of having local lads and former players on the backroom staff, with the likes of Sammy Lee and Phil Thompson holding those roles in recent years. I’m hoping Brendan is wise in picking his next assistant, as this is one club that likes a bit of local influence at the top level.

Brendan needs to be in the mix for a top-four finish by the time Liverpool get to the halfway point in the season and they have a lot of the top teams to play at Anfield in the second half of the season.

Hopefully he makes the right signings in the next few weeks, as while Danny Ings, James Milner (inset above) and Adam Bogdan are decent signings, we now need to see the marquee, head-turning buys that will put everyone back on a positive footing.

With the Sterling money adding to what Liverpool already have in the bank, Rodgers should be given around £80m to spend in the next few weeks and that should be enough to get this club back in the mix for the top positions.