A 21-year old, Jamaican born, deceptively strong, intelligent in possession, pacey, adept, versatile and fantastic forward who broke into Liverpool’s first team under Brendan Rodgers moved to Manchester City for £49million in the summer of 2015 becoming the most expensive Englishman of all time has been given a lot of sticks and has faced a lot of boos from football fans around the world due to low performances at the Euro 2016. No doubt that England’s performance at the tournament was a shambles but Raheem Sterling was singled out as the epitome of their failure.
Perhaps it is too early to be determined but we have seen a resurgent Raheem in Citizen’s last two matches. He started 23 matches in the Premier League last season in a frustrating debut campaign with City scoring six league goals – three of which were scored in a 5-1 home win over Bournemouth – and giving two assists was a poor return for Sterling, however, he been fantastic for Pep.
He had 73 touches against Sunderland ( the fifth highest from attacking players in the first round of fixtures) and 68 touches against Steaua Bucuresti (Of City’s attackers, only Silva and Nolito had more), a huge increase on his average of 49.3 touches per start last season a clear indication that Guardiola wants Sterling on the ball more regularly. After the Sunderland game, he (Pep) said: “He has the quality to play right or left, go to the byline or inside. He is a fighter. Of course we want more from him but we are very happy. He is a very nice guy and from the beginning I had a feeling this guy is good.”
Again, in their UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLAY-OFF against Steaua Bucuresti last night, Sterling for the first time in his City career provided two assists in a single match (three assists in his last two games).
So I can say that following a testing summer, Sterling has laid on the very ideal response to doubters and critics, offered a glimpse of his role in the foreseeable future and of course will inevitably live up to expectations considering his transfer fee if he continues to make his mark in this manner. Surely, Rodgers deserves credit for nurturing the conditions which have allowed him to make such rapid progress in the past and for standing by the player when many others were ready to write-off his immediate and long-term prospects.
What remains unquestionable is that Sterling’s potential is virtually without limit and, just as significantly, he has in Pep the ideal manager to fulfill it. It is a potent mix and it means that Manchester City fans can have much more to look forward to than just glory in May.
Pep on Sterling: “He has a lot of quality, he’s fast, has a good work ethic. He’s a fantastic player.”