Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has refused to take credit for Raheem Sterling’s resurgence in recent weeks, insisting it has all been down to the player himself.
Sterling was in and out of the City side in the final third of last season and, despite an impressive Euro 2020 with England, was largely playing second fiddle to £100m signing Jack Grealish in the first few months of the 2021/22 campaign.
The 27-year-old, who scored 31 goals in all competitions for City as recently as the 2019/20 season, only appeared as a substitute in games against Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, before not getting off the bench at all in last month’s Manchester derby.
However, things have suddenly all changed since the November international break, with Sterling starting every Premier League game since and registering three goals and an assist, as well as two Champions League strikes.
Guardiola has now admitted it was only by chance that he got back into the team on a regular basis, taking advantage of an opportunity when Ilkay Gundogan was suddenly unavailable for the game against Aston Villa a fortnight ago.
“I am going to reveal a secret,” he said, via The Guardian.
“When we played Aston Villa, the day before we have 12 players. [Sterling] was not selected and on the day Gundogan had a pain in his back and could not travel and Raheem played.
“Just take a look at the first 15-20 minutes he played – it was the best 15-20 minutes maybe from the last months. I can pretend I know everything but that [form belongs] absolutely to the players.”
But Guardiola is always striving for more and still wants every player, not only Sterling, to step it up.
“I want more from him but I want more from Gundogan, I want more from Kevin [De Bruyne], I want more even from Bernardo [Silva], from Rodri,” the boss explained.