Raheem Sterling’s start to his Manchester City career did get off to a fantastic start but then died down as the season went on. Now he’s back as a new Raheem. Sterling joined Manchester City in the summer of 2015 for a record fee of £44 million. A world class talent with tremendous pace and technique who didn’t have any limitations on his game and future.
Sterling’s start to his City career was promising. Adding constant speed and youth to an old and rather slow Manchester City squad. With new signings, Kevin De Bruyne, Nicolas Otamendi, and England teammate Fabian Delph City’s expectation were high for a, what would be, a very disappointing ten months for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
Sterling’s first five games were lighting up the Etihad. Picking up where he left off at Liverpool. Running at a player, causing problems and giving City some real alternatives regarding tempo. The games after were the start of the pain, for Raheem. Bad performances plagued his coming months in the Premier League, and inconsistency was his enemy. Although scoring six and assisting two in his thirty-two games, there was a feel that City overpaid for the young man.
Although everything was not all bad for Sterling in his first season for the Blues. In the Champions League, he was pivotal to their success in reaching a semi-final for the first time in the history of the club. It almost looked like the Sterling we saw in the Champions League was not the same person as in the Premier League.
The last months of the season he spent the majority of the games on the bench, coming on a sub for the departing Manuel Pellegrini, fearing for his future at the club, with new boss Pep Guardiola arriving in the coming months.
Then came the euros and the constant abuse towards Sterling. Papers all over Britain attacked and almost harassed Raheem every chance they got, ignoring the other players in the England squad who had a poor tournament than Raheem. England never shuns and so didn’t Sterling that summer, being knocked out by Iceland in the quarterfinals. But something very positive came from his trip to France that summer, the call. Pep Guardiola phoned Raheem during the Euros and assured him that Pep isn’t abandoning him, that his a vital part of his team for the year to come.
With the impending arrival of Guardiola, there was an ember of excitement for Raheem. A Pep that has always improved and embraced the attacking midfielders in his team. Looking back at what Pep does and how he uses wingers it was easy to understand what excitement Sterling could’ve felt when he arrived in Manchester after his holiday.
Looking back at what material Pep has been working with in the past, Messi, Robben, Ribery, Pedro, Costa, Coman and so on one could not help to hope for a similar thing to evolve out of the shell that was Raheem Sterling. Also with new signings Leroy Sané (Schalke 04) and Nolito (Celta Vigo) there was further competition in the Manchester City team for the coming season, more competition for teammates to learn and improve.
With two competitive games played, one in the Premier League against Sunderland (2-1) and the other in the Champions League against Steaua Bucharest (0-5), one dares to say how far Sterling has gone in just a few weeks under the new gaffer. New energy, confidence and desire radiates from him, seeping out onto the pitch. One could say it like a new signing this summer having this young and immensely talented boy flourishing out of his shell of shame.
It will be a long season for Manchester City, a season of learning, improving and adapting to Pep Guardiola’s unusual new tactics and game plans. It could end with City not lifting the Premier League, but that would just be an icing on the cake for the fantastic and blinding football Manchester City will display for years to come, with Raheem Sterling as one of the leading figures of Peps new era.