Sterling shines for City
AS Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City advance upon the Champions League group phase, previously maligned winger Raheem Sterling appears to have been reborn.
Sterling, 21, joined City from Liverpool in a fractious £44 million ($57.8 million) move last year, but flattered to deceive and ultimately lost his place in the starting XI.
He was also derided for some insipid England displays at Euro 2016, but he is thriving under Guardiola and inspired City to a 5-0 win at Steaua Bucharest in their Champions League play-off round first leg.
“Obviously he’s been criticised a lot in the last year, but the way he’s responding is great,” said teammate Kevin De Bruyne ahead of today’s return leg against Steaua.
“He’s a great player. I don’t care what people say about him after last year or the Euros. These things happen. Footballers have ups and downs.
“Hopefully he can continue this for us now, because he is very dangerous.”
Sterling set the tone for City in last week’s first leg in Bucharest, winning an early penalty – which Sergio Aguero squandered – and laying on goals for David Silva and Aguero, who scored a hat-trick.
He won a penalty as City beat Sunderland 2-1 on the Premier League season’s opening day and impressed again in last week’s 4-1 win at Stoke City, unselfishly setting up a late goal for Nolito.
Sterling’s return to form has not escaped the attention of new England manager Sam Allardyce.
“People say in football that when you have the dip, it’s how well do you overcome it?” Allardyce told reporters on August 23.
“When you do overcome it, you end up being a much better player and generally your career lasts a lot longer after getting through that period.
“So if he’s through that period and his talent begins to blossom again ... He’s a terrific talent.” –