Raheem Sterling insists his decision to leave Liverpool for Manchester City was the best thing for his career.
The England international’s high-profile switch from Anfield last July provoked anger amongst some Liverpool faithful, who accused him of pursuing a more substantial pay packet after he had turned down a contract offer from the Merseysiders.
Sterling, however, says the chance to move to Manuel Pellegrini’s side felt like the next appropriate step in his career, telling Sky Sports: “The main [comment] on my Instagram is the snake sign – that’s the biggest one so far – and someone that loves money, hungry for money.
“Realistically, I am trying to improve as a player and that’s the most important thing for me and for my development. I just did what I thought was best for my career at that moment in time.”
Sterling, 21, believes his decision to avoid speaking with the media for much of this season has helped to focus his efforts on developing as a player.
“Obviously getting a move to City was a great opportunity for me and a great stepping stone, but I thought [the best way] to give myself the best chance to progress and do well was to try to stay out of people’s TVs and headlines,” he said.
“I tried to be seen to focus on football and make the right headlines. It’s a difficult one because people formed an opinion on me and I can’t do anything to change that.
“If I came out again and said something else it would probably make the situation a lot worse. Maybe it could have made it better, who knows?
“I thought to myself at that moment in time it was the right thing to do – get a level playing field and try to keep it a smooth one and go into the season with the right head and focus.
“I think I’ve not done too bad. I think I’ve stayed out of the way.”
Sterling, who has scored 11 goals in 2015-16, also revealed his biggest critic during what has been a mixed campaign for City.
“After games you get messages from friends and family and I can honestly say, of all the games I’ve played this year, about 10 to 15 times I’ve had – from my mum – ‘you weren’t in the box as much as you should be. You should be closer to the goal so it makes it easier for you’,” he said.
“I can’t believe her level of thinking. I actually call her Jose Mourinho because she actually thinks she is the Chosen One!
“It’s kind of annoying because those are things I’m trying to change and get better at and she’s pointing it out to me and I don’t like that! It’s the fact that it’s actually true is the most annoying bit!”