Raheem Sterling says Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been crucial to his magnificent form after scoring twice to help the club record a 3-1 Premier League victory over West Ham.
Last season saw the 21-year-old struggle to hit the heights following his move from Liverpool, before he was part of England’s dreadful Euro 2016 campaign in France, but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach’s arrival has made an immediate impact on the winger.
Sterling has scored twice and picked up three assists in just four appearances under Guardiola – it took him Manuel Pellegrini’s last 22 matches in charge to contribute to five goals at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
He said to Sky Sports: “Reborn? I keep seeing that word. It’s not unfair – obviously it was a difficult first season getting to know the club, but Pep Guardiola has come in and given us a lot of courage.
“I’m not saying Manuel didn’t do that, but the manager has come in and given me authority to go forward.
“He even had a go at me in the first half for not dibbling as much as I should do. So credit for him for really giving me that boost.”
Sterling: “Reborn? I keep hearing that word. The manager has been great…he has given us a lot more confidence.” pic.twitter.com/Bkfr1QTjUy
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 28, 2016
Sterling scored the first and last of the match’s four goals on Sunday, his first rounding off a slick team-move and his second – in stoppage-time – a brilliant effort from a tight angle.
He continued: “We have players that get in pockets and are really good with one-twos. Credit to the boys, they had a cracking build-up on the left-hand side and it was my chance to get in there and get into a good position – luckily I did.
“For the second, if I did not pass and it hit the post, I would have probably got caned by my team-mates for it. I thought it was a difficult one to square back and that I would take my luck and shoot.”
City now have five straight wins under Guardiola and playmaker Kevin De Bruyne – who created his side’s other goal, scored by Fernandinho – thinks there will be chances aplenty under the new regime.
The Belgium international said: “I think the first half was really good. West Ham didn’t have many chances, you knew they were going to come into it more after half-time but overall I think we deserved it.
“We created quite a lot of chances, all the players played really well through the lines, which makes it really difficult for the other team to defend.
“If we can keep it up we will create a lot of chances this season.”