After a week of controversy, Brendan Rodgers has responded to Roy Hodgson’s bizarre claims that Raheem Sterling opted out of England duty with fatigue.
The claws are out.
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has finally delivered his riposte to the uproar surrounding England counterpart Roy Hodgson’s claims that Liverpool forward told him he was too “tired” to feature for the national side.
Following England’s drab 1-0 win over Estonia on Sunday night, a second victory for the national side in a week, Hodgson told reporters his version of events, with the 19-year-old starting on the substitutes’ bench.
“Raheem had done the warm up and he came to me and said: ‘Look I really am feeling a little tired, I am not in my best form at the moment because I am feeling a bit tired.’”
So far this season, Sterling has made 15 appearances for club and country, and at such a young age there is every reason for the Englishman to feel fatigued.
However, it is bizarre for Hodgson to have publicly outed the youngster, and his assertions made Sterling somewhat of a scapegoat, deflecting attention from England’s poor performances against both Estonia and San Marino.
Furthermore, amidst the furore, Hodgson suggested Liverpool’s own poor form was the reason for Sterling’s troubles.
“Perhaps it’s quite simply the season hasn’t started quite as well for Liverpool as they wanted. I don’t know, it’s just a theory.”
Next up came another “theory,” with Rodgers’ training techniques this time on the block.
“Raheem might say it is something that is becoming ingrained in him and that he felt the need to talk about being tired more than he would normally do.
“I don’t think there is a lot of medical evidence to support the ‘two day recovery’.”
Liverpool supporters waited with baited breath after this barb, and Rodgers has responded with fury.
“I’m fed up reading about this club v country row, claims we intervened and put pressure on Roy Hodgson.
“I’ve read we sent dossiers to the FA [Football Association] on Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge and I’m having showdown talks with Roy Hodgson on Sunday and all sorts of rubbish. The decision not to play him was a managerial decision. I haven’t said a single word but have to say I have never seen such rubbish written over the last few days.”
Rodgers’ point that to rest Sterling was a managerial decision clearly refutes Hodgson’s claim that Sterling opted out of the game with his fatigue.
“At no point did Raheem Sterling say he didn’t want to play for England. The boy is being hung out to dry and I dare say the criticism will continue for a few more weeks to come because of this.”
Echoing everything Liverpool fans have felt since this latest idiocy dribbled down onto Hodgson’s lapels, Rodgers offered Sterling nothing but protection in order to save the teenager from being scapegoated.
The Liverpool manager, however, did concede that Sterling does feel “tired,” but this is far from exceptional.
“Let me tell you, there have been at least five occasions in the past when Raheem has said he felt tired before games but he’s never refused to play.
“We have taken on board what he has said and taken a decision accordingly. I rested him against Aston Villa and we lost the game. But it was our decision to do so – and our decision alone.”
“Last season he said he felt tired before the Manchester City game. We won 3-2 and he put in a man-of-the-match performance.
“The point I’m making is you have to take on board advice from your own people and make your own decision, right or wrong.”
There is clearly no love lost between Rodgers and Hodgson over this issue, expect more during the upcoming pre-QPR press conference.