Guardiola praises Sterling for 'going back to basics'

Pep Guardiola praises Raheem Sterling for ‘going back to basics’ in his search for a return to form for Manchester City with the England winger set for another start amid ongoing midfield injuries

  • Pep Guardiola said in-form Raheem Sterling has gone ‘back to basics’ to improve
  • Sterling has scored in his last three games, after two goals in the previous 20
  • The England winger is poised to start against West Ham due to City’s injury woes 

Pep Guardiola suggested that Raheem Sterling has stripped back his game as the Manchester City forward returns to form.

Sterling has recently rediscovered his goalscoring touch, notching in each of his last three appearances after a run of only two strikes in the previous 20 games.

The 26-year-old, a target for Barcelona but whom City want to tie down to a new contract, had dropped out of Guardiola’s preferred starting XI towards the end of last season.

Pep Guardiola (left) praised Raheem Sterling’s (right) return to form for Manchester City

Sterling has scored in his last three City games, after only netting twice in his previous 20 matches

Guardiola believes Sterling is now more relaxed and putting less pressure on himself to perform.

‘Raheem’s attitude has always been good and I’ve always said to the players to make demands of yourself but don’t put a lot of pressure on your shoulders,’ Guardiola said.

‘In a career as a player, you cannot always be 10/10. You have highs and lows. The important thing is not to get that low. When they do (drop off) they go back to the basics. They have to know it’s normal.

‘I want to live good and living good is to take responsibility and relax. Do your best, perform to your maximum. But at a team like Man City being a success doesn’t depend absolutely on you.’

Guardiola will continue to be without Kevin de Bruyne following his positive Covid test

City, three points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, will still be without Kevin De Bruyne against West Ham United on Sunday after the midfielder tested positive for coronavirus.

Jack Grealish and Phil Foden remain injury doubts but both have completed individual training sessions this week.

The fitness problems elsewhere could hand Sterling another start in a front three as Guardiola detailed how difficult it can be for his creative types to maintain consistency.

‘Scoring goals can give confidence for these type of guys but he has to do better, be aggressive, go one against one, arrive in the final third,’ Guardiola added.

Jack Grealish (left) and Phil Foden (right) remain injury doubts ahead of the West Ham fixture

‘This is the first step for him to come back. We doesn’t put pressure on with numbers – try to play good in the next game, score goals, make an assist, and help his mates win the games.

‘You cannot imagine how difficult it is especially for the talented players – every three days they have to be creative. The guys who are physical and don’t have to think, they just run. But the others have to dribble, be creative, it’s so demanding and sometimes you go back to basics.

‘Sometimes you help the team and the basics is enough. After that the confidence comes back and the team are winning. When one player doesn’t play good I don’t doubt them, I don’t think they don’t have the skills.

‘I’m not going to tell Raheem that he doesn’t have the quality he had in the last six years. He’s the same guy, come back to the basics and step by step he will come back.’ 

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