Thursday, Oct 06, 2022

Raheem Sterling Conundrum: Indispensable For England, Yet Increasingly Overlooked By Manchester City

Pep Guardiola's plans do not seem to involve English Forward Raheem Sterling starting in the line-up. His position is now occupied by Jack Grealish.

Raheem Sterling's best attributes aren't what Manchester City needs against most of its opponents right now. File Photo

Raheem Sterling is in the prime of his career but also in a curious place at the moment, and the statistics paint a worrying picture for him. He has started two of City's six games in the league and those are the ones the team has dropped points in. They are also the games City has looked at its most sterile in attack. (More Football News)

It indicated that Sterling is not part of the first-choice lineup. It might be that Sterling is used most regularly now as a central striker, if City opts to have one, but his return of three goals in his last 25 appearances for the team suggests he is not scoring as much as Guardiola would be happy with.

There's also competition centrally, in Ferran Torres or through more of a false nine in Kevin De Bruyne, Foden or even Ilkay Gundogan.

It couldn't be more different with England, for whom Sterling is a certain starter alongside captain Harry Kane. He has also scored five goals in his last 12 international games.

City's style of play is very different to England's, though. It is a more technical and precise approach, with the likes of Grealish and Portugal playmaker Bernardo Silva — undroppable at the moment given his performances — ensuring Guardiola's midfield is harder to dispossess than perhaps ever before.

Sterling's best attributes — pace and exploiting space behind defenses — aren't what City needs against most of its opponents right now.

“He was so active in terms of movement,” Guardiola said of Sterling last week after the Southampton game, “but football depends a lot on how good we do the process in the build-up and when it happens, our strikers and wingers play better.”

Given his profile and pedigree, Sterling has to be thinking about his future. His contract at City runs through to the summer of 2023 and he would not be short of offers.

With City hoping to go deep in every competition it enters, Sterling will get plenty of game time this season but maybe not in the games he really wants to play in.

Tuesday's match at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League will give another indication as to Sterling's current standing at City. With Grealish expected to stay on the left wing, Sterling might have to settle again for a place on the bench.


Must Read