Raheem Sterling 21 Midfielder Manchester City England
The single most skillful footballer England has produced in a generation had a tough time last season. Struggling with a manager who was effectively winding down and in a team that were all over the place form wise, Sterling became a focal point for non-Manchester City fans to tell Manchester City fans exactly what was wrong with Manchester City.
This season under Pep he looks a man preparing to thrive in a system that suits. That ball retention gives him scope to find space and get close to Aguero, flirting between wide roles, secondary striker duties and driving at defenders. Finally he looks happy again, and we’re delighted.
2016 has been…
…started as hard work, then became a nightmare, now looks like a revolution.
To talk about Raheem Sterling’s footballing year we must first talk about the summer and the disgraceful way he was treated in the press. Demonised and held up as all that was wrong with English football by newspapers who largely used their front page journos to do so whilst, to be fair, a lot of their back page ones pleaded for a bit of calm, the scapegoating was extraordinary. We don’t have a long enough word count to go into our feelings about this treatment of a young, prominent black footballer who is absolutely the future of our game, and if we did we might end up in court (or Twitter jail at the very least). We will say this; it was a disgrace, he’s done wonderfully well to get his head down and concentrate on his football, and if anything it has made us even bigger fans of a man on the 100 for the third time.
His summer with England wasn’t good, but then very few emerged with anything ticked in green after their performance in France. We prefer to look at what’s happened since he’s fallen under Pep’s wing. Confident, happy, a goal threat again and playing some wonderful football, we’re excited to see how far he might come in a full season under Man City’s new philosophy.
We have made our feelings known about his singling out over the summer, but it’s fair comment to say he needs to find ways to impose himself on international games. For wide players that England shirt can be particularly heavy, there are those who will tell you John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Steve McManaman and a whole list of others never produced their club form internationally over a consistent period. Can Raheem break that mould in Gareth Southgate’s brave new world? It may come down to his manager more than himself to be honest.
Sterling is playing his best club football since he got us all so excited in 2014 and long may that continue. We want to round the wagons up and protect this young man. Once a press punchline for silly stories about his personal life, then the victim of a shameful smear campaign based on nothing, we’re celebrating his football from here on. Pep luvs Raheem 4 eva IDST, and that makes us feel fizzy in our fizzy areas. We’ve got your back, young man.
C+ Ten more games under Pep and we reckon this would have been a comfortable B, exciting times
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