Liverpool FC: Raheem Sterling negotiations need to be done in private

Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling is being much maligned for his refusal to sign a new contract with Liverpool – some of that criticism is fair, some of it isn’t.  The big issue for me though is that all this should not be taking place in the media in public.

Whilst I think a £100,000 a week contract is more than fair for a player of his ability and potential I can see there are two key issues at play.

  • Firstly the potential to win trophies and play in the Champions League football is key to any young footballer.  Once again Liverpool have failed to qualify for the Champions League – to not have the opportunity to play against the best players in the world is going to be frustrating for Sterling.  Liverpool haven’t won a trophy since 2012, when they beat Cardiff on penalties to win the League Cup.
  • Secondly, Liverpool Football Club seem to have once again chosen the wrong time for contract negotiations.  Sterling, in an interview with the BBC, claimed his future could have been resolved after last season’s title challenge.  He said: “If, at that point in time, I was offered a contract, I most definitely would have signed straight away and probably for far less money than is being said now. I think the timing was a bit off.”

Negotiations are negotiations – people say all kinds of things in those meetings to get that compromise that everyone is happy with.  But the problem is that currently these thoughts and comments are being made in the press, in front of all of the Liverpool fans.  This is what has really led to their criticism of Sterling.  It’s little wonder that he received a mixed reception at Liverpool’s end-of-season awards ceremony when he collected the young player of the year prize to a combination of boos, heckling and some applause.

I think Jamie Carragher is completely right to tell Sterling to “keep your mouth shut” and “get on with playing football”.  He said on Sky’s Monday Night Football:

“For a 20-year-old kid to be taking on Liverpool Football Club over a contract. To the pit of my stomach that just winds me up, it angers me.

The lad is from London and he obviously wants to go back home. It might not be about money. It may be about trophies or playing in the Champions League. If it’s about trophies, Liverpool had a chance for a trophy this year, in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Aston Villa. Where was Sterling? If you want trophies, they don’t get given to you, you have to earn them, you have to play well in big games. What did Liverpool do in the Champions League? Nothing. What did Sterling do? Nothing.

To do what he’s done now. There’s nothing worse than that. You keep your mouth shut – get on with playing football.”

 

Animal accidents map shows worst New Forest roads

I love living in the New Forest, but one of the worst bits is every so often driving past the scene of an animal that has been hit as it wandered into the road – many of these are fatal accidents.  Recently New Forest organisations have published a new map to highlight the worst roads for animal accidents.

New-Forest-Animal-Accidents-Map-2014

The map shows 138 accidents across the Forest in 2014, with more than a third of accidents taking place on just three roads:

  • B3078 from Cadnam to Godshill – 24 accidents
  • B3054 from Hatchet Pond to Portmore – 16 accidents
  • B3056 from Hatchet Pond to Lyndhurst – 13 accidents

A number of Forest organisations work together to reduce the number of accidents including the Verderers, the Commoners Defence Association, New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire Constabulary, the Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council and Hampshire County Council.

The overall number of accidents fell in 2014 to 138 (from 181 in 2013). But Forest organisations are warning against any complacency, especially among motorists who travel across the Forest each day as most incidents involve people who live in or close to the New Forest. This is particularly important as many foals are born at this time of year.

Initiatives include fitting reflective pony collars, changing road warning signs to keep drivers’ attention, traffic calming measures, verge cutting to increase visibility and awareness campaigns.

Sue Westwood, Clerk to the Verderers, said: ‘New Forest ponies and cattle are free to roam the New Forest and it’s their grazing activity which shapes the iconic landscape. We hope this map will be a visual reminder to motorists to be aware of animals as they’re driving. Although accidents are spread across the Forest and their distribution changes every year, there are particular roads which always seem to have a high number of accidents.’

Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘Local motorists should never assume that it won’t happen to them. One day that animal beside the road will step out at the last minute, so go slowly and give it a wide berth. The speed limit is 30 or 40mph for a reason. Animals are on the road day and night, and unfortunately have no fear of cars.’

Driving tips:

  • Be ready to stop – ponies may step out even when they’ve seen you approaching
  • Slow down, especially at night and when other cars are approaching with their headlights on
  • Give animals grazing by the side of the road a wide berth
  • Take extra care when there are animals on the verges on both sides of the road – they may cross to join their friends.
  • Consider travelling on the fenced roads (such as the A31, A337 and A35) so that you don’t have to cross the open Forest.
  • The faster you are going, the greater the damage will be to the animal, your car and your passengers – start your journey early so you don’t have to hurry.
  • If you witness or are involved in an accident involving a pony, donkey, cow, pig or sheep, call the Police (999 for an emergency or 101 if it’s not an emergency).

Books I have read: Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

Multiply Francis Chan

I’ve always enjoyed reading Francis Chan’s writings, a few years ago I was inspired by his book Crazy Love, so I was looking forward to reading Multiply: Disciples making disciples.  As a youth minister I’m incredibly passionate to resource young people to share their faith with their friends – they do such a better job than I every could do.  Not because I can’t share faith, or because I can’t answer the tough questions, but because I don’t have the shared context that they have.

The book can be used for personal devotions, but works well for a group to look through together.  It is split into five sections:

  1. Living as a Disciple Maker
  2. Living as the Church
  3. How to Study the Bible
  4. Understanding the Old Testament
  5. Understanding the New Testament

This book would work well as a post Alpha or other evangelistic course for those who wanted to develop a stronger foundation to their new-found faith.

We used the first section themed around what is a disciple and what does it mean to share our faith with our group of 11-14 year olds who really enjoyed looking at the material.

I thoroughly recommend taking the time to read this book and the additional resources developed for it.

A candidate’s leaflet urges voters to get out on ‘Erection Day’

This has to be one of the best copy editing mistakes made!  A Conservative Party leaflet for the General Election was prepared for ‘Erection Day’!

erection-day

It was tweeted by James Duddridge so it doesn’t look like the standard photoshopping we normally see on social media.  While the leaflet wasn’t distributed — election day is May 7 in the UK — it’s pretty astounding that the image made it through the printing stage!

Assembly: General Election 2015

Ballot Box

aclinjury

Here’s my assembly for our local junior school for tomorrow morning on the theme of the General Election, you can download the powerpoint here.

General Election

What’s your favourite colour? Maybe it’s yellow or red, blue, green or purple. Maybe you prefer a combination or like there to be some kind of pattern or symbol. The media has been saturated with a competing range of badges and banners urging those over 18 to nail their colours to the mast. It’s because there’s a General Election scheduled for tomorrow.
The General Election has probably passed many of you by. It’s simply been an irritating interruption to TV, radio and social media. But maybe it has more to do with all of us than you might think.

 

Politics does have something to do with all of us, even those who are under the age of 18 and are not yet able to vote. Politics is about the way we organize the communities and country in which we live. It affects our water, our power, our schools, hospitals, mobile phone networks and much much more!

 

Every one of us, I’m pretty sure, wants the best for ourselves and also the best for society. The range of political parties competing for seats in Parliament simply shows that there might be many different ways to achieve this and so politics becomes a complicated business.

 

Good Leadership

William Gladstone, Liberal prime minister of the 19th century said ‘It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right’.

 

We need good leaders in every area of our society. Without good political leaders, laws would be passed that would make it easier for people to do wrong things and get away with them. Gladstone was right about what governments exist to do – good leaders make it harder to do wrong and easier to do right. Without good political leaders, the country would descend into a very unstable place where the poorest and most vulnerable in society were not being looked after. Many believe a society should be judged on how well it looks after its most needy and vulnerable. Good government frees up people to take responsibility to do good and confront things when they are bad.

 

Explain that the children will have one vote each at the end to choose who they feel would make the best leader of the country based on what they say and anything they know about them:

  • ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won.’ (Gandhi)
  • ‘You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way.’ (Lady Gaga)
  • ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’ (Winston Churchill)
  • ‘I stand for freedom of expression, doing what you believe in, and going after your dreams.’ (Madonna)
  • ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ (Nelson Mandela)
  • ‘I still look at myself and want to improve.’ (David Beckham)

 

Hold the vote with a show of hands and announce the winner! Point out that it can sometimes be difficult to choose – perhaps you wanted to vote for more than one person, or you were disappointed that your person didn’t win. But this is how democracy works.

 

In the end, everyone agrees to go with what most people (the majority) decide and once the person who has been elected takes his or her place, that person represents everyone (not just those who voted for them!) – that’s democracy!

What about you?

But what about us? The result of the General Election might affect us but we still don’t have a vote. What’s politics got to do with us?

You are already able to demonstrate your views. You live as part of a school community and reside in a local geographical community. From what I hear, you’ve got lots of ideas. You believe there are better ways to do many things. You get angry at what you perceive as injustice. You get irritated at rules and regulations that seem to have little point. You want to describe a better way to do it. So what might you do?

 

Politics in school is about making your views known. Use ideas boxes to post your concerns and suggestions. Think about what’s important for the most vulnerable in the school or those who are too shy to voice their opinion publicly.
Politics in your community can provide the opportunity to work with all ages. Make a stand, offer to volunteer, take part in a boycott, hold a protest rally and use social media. It’s all politics and you can be an important part of it.
I don’t know what the Election result is likely to be. It’s too close to call. I hope you take an interest. But more than that, I hope you get involved.
Prayer
Dear Lord,

Thank you for people who are willing to give their time and expertise to organize the society in which we live.
Remind us of their sacrifices when we’re tempted to criticise them and help us to see where and when we too can be involved in politics.
Amen.

 

Britain’s Got Talent: Old Men Grooving

I loved this Brtain’s Got Talent act from last night, Old Men Grooving bust a move.

The Judges appear sceptical when these dancing dads appear on stage, but their hip hop and street dance routine leave them open-mouthed in amazement.

It’s a brilliant example of what we see on the outside isn’t what we actually get.  Certainly one I’ll be using with the youth group over the next few weeks.

Philip Yancey – Small is Large

mega church

Philip Yancey has written a fantastic blog on Small is Large reflecting on mega church v small church and the community they produce, well worth a read:

The majority of Americans, like me, still attend churches with less than 200 members.  We show up on Sundays to hear less entertaining sermons and less professional music—though we have no trouble finding a parking place.  Why?  Smaller towns don’t have the option of megachurches, of course, and big crowds make some people nervous.  I found one more reason when I came across this paradoxical observation in G. K. Chesterton’s book Heretics:

The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world…. The reason is obvious.  In a large community we can choose our companions.  In a small community our companions are chosen for us.

Precisely!  Given a choice, I tend to hang out with folks like me: people who have college degrees, drink dark roast coffee, listen to classical music, and buy their cars based on EPA gas mileage ratings.  Yet after a while I get bored with people like me.  Smaller groups (and smaller churches) force me to rub shoulders with everybody else.

Henri Nouwen defines “community” as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives.  Often we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, which forms a club or a clique, not a community.  Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community.

Liverpool FC home kit 2015/2016

The first ever New Balance Liverpool FC kits were launched on 10th April, confirming many of the previous leaks.  The new Liverpool 15-16 Kits are the first jerseys made by New Balance, after Warrior Football was re-branded as New Balance.  The New Balance Liverpool 2015-16 Kits feature a classical kit design, sponsored by Standard Chartered.

Take a closer look at the strip:

The new red Liverpool 15-16 Home Kit features a classical kit design with a unique kit collar.

On the front of the New Balance Liverpool Kit is a chequered pattern with differently sized squares. It is “inspired by the red and white mosaic formed when supporters on the Kop hoist aloft their Liverpool flags and scarves on a matchday.”

The New Balance logo, the Liver Bird and the Standard Chartered logo are white. The New Balance Liverpool 2015-2016 Home Shirt has yellow and white details.

Red shorts and red socks complete the new Liverpool 15-16 Home Kit, made by New Balance.