Since signing back in 2015 for £49 million Raheem Sterling winger has often been criticised for his finishing – or lack of. His debut season for City was considered one of the worst signings of the season.
He featured regularly for the first part of the season under Pep Guardiola and delivered some excellent performances only to trail off in the later stages of the season.
Prior to Sunday’s trip to Huddersfield, Pep Guardiola said he was surprised Sterling was the clubs top goal scorer in all competitions this season.
Already this season he has surpassed his best ever return for a club campaign, scoring 12 goals in 18 appearances and looking likely to increase that stat significantly before the season ends.
When questioned if he was surprised Sterling was the top goal scorer this season, Guardiola replied, “Yes – but it’s good. Sergio and Gabriel didn’t play all the games – normally both are better but it’s good.
“‘It’s good for the players to know how important it is to know they won the game because they score the goal like for example against Feyenoord.
“We have a lot of players who have the ability to score a goal, not just the strikers. It’s so important because you cannot win the title with just one or two players scoring goals. Kevin [De Bruyne], Nico [Otamendi], have scored so it’s important.”
City are the in-form team in the Premier League so far this season, with several players having excellent seasons. Sterling is certainly benefiting from players like De Bruyne and David Silva and, as a result, is keeping pace with club goal scoring legend Sergio Aguero.
The game against Huddersfield saw a hard fought victory and also saw the winger continue his goalscoring form. He won the penalty for the equaliser which Aguero converted and followed up with the winner on 84 minutes.
Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry also believes the winger is benefiting from playing in a team with a clear tactical structure.
He told Super Sunday after the match: “He needs to know what he has to do, it’s as simple as that. He needs to know the plan, he needs to know the structure and he needs to know what his team are going to do so he can execute it.
“He’s playing with those guys [at Man City] every single day. When you go away with national teams it’s different, everyone has different ideas on how to play and what to do in training.
“What’s the plan with the team in England? How are they playing? I can see clearly what they are doing at Man City and he’s playing in a team that is winning games.”
During Euro ‘16 before Guardiola took charge at City Sterling had endured a miserable England campaign and was dropped by then England manager Roy Hodgson for the final group game.
He also became a hate figure for many opposition fans with somebody even setting up a Just Giving page to raise the required funds to fly the winger home before the competition had finished.
Sterling could have been forgiven for worrying about his future in the Manchester City squad with Guardiola set to take over for the new season.
That worry was eased by a phone call from Pep to reassure him he was part of his plans for the club and that he was an admirer of the England international.
Guardiola has a reputation for progressing promising players into a more finished article and that appears to be what we are seeing in his relationship with Sterling.