The sight of Raheem Sterling doing the things that he is meant to on the pitch is beautiful. As many City fans are aware, this was not the case in the previous season where many had questioned the worth of the young England international who cost Manchester City £49 million.
After a season long disappointment in the form that was Raheem Sterling, the future is something to look forward to as expert tactician Pep Guardiola has managed to negotiate with the erroneous fiend that exists within Sterling. And doing so was a remarkable feat of savoir-faire, to which Guardiola deserves the world’s applause. Or does he? Not really because he had not taken on anything special in terms of improving the player tactically. Yet there is something remarkable here. The confidence seen in the few games that Sterling had played in recently, was something that was clearly lacking last season. And someone has to take credit for that.
While not immaculate, Guardiola clearly helped pave the way for a more rejuvenated Raheem Sterling – the man who enjoys taking on defenders, who works hard to retrieve balls (successfully) and the one who is able to look up while moving the ball forward in the opponents half.
A 360-degree change of course for a player who had suffered a dismal Euro 2016 and was rumoured to be a bench warmer under Guardiola’s reign.
Although brief, Sterling has remembered the joy of playing the game and the freedom that he relished giving rise to his dynamisms on the field.
With two goals in three appearances, it might be a little too early to praise the player, however we do love stats. And after three games, Sterling has managed to improve his ability to win duels by a significant 6% compared to 51% for the entirety last season. His confidence and subsequent aptitude to take on defenders shows in numbers as he was at 61% as he successfully took on players in these three games as compared to 52% in the entirety of the whole season. Furthermore, in doing so, he was fouled down 71% while attempting to do so as compared to 68% in 15/16. To be honest, this does not really say much, because as we said, it is a little too early to start the comparison, however to see a notable improvement early on has not only boosted his self-confidence but has also brought across a sense of assurance to City fans.
It seems like Sterling has overcome a formidable challenge – to rise again after taking a hit to his certainty. The next few are forthcoming trials in the form of maintain that consistency in domestic football and to be recognized in the colours of the England. At 22, he still has a long way to go in terms of a finished product and knowing that he is in good hands under Guardiola, it shouldn’t take that long. Nevertheless, as it stands, friends and foes should take note of his resurgence.
He is enjoying his football and it shows. Welcome back Sterling and thank you Guardiola.