Raheem Sterling tried too hard against Everton as he failed to make an impact on his return to Manchester City’s starting XI… Pep Guardiola MUST bring him back to life if they want to make history and land the quadruple
- Man City beat Everton 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday
- Pep Guardiola’s team maintained hopes of four trophies in remarkable season
- Raheem Sterling was ineffective and substituted before his side’s two goals
If Manchester City are to go on a land a truly historic Quadruple, Pep Guardiola will have to find the real Raheem Sterling and bring him back to life.
There was a sense of anticipation when Sterling’s name was recalled to City’s starting line-up at Goodison on Saturday after being left out of the previous three games, his longest absence since 2018.
It was hoped the 26-year-old would come out explosively with a point to prove. Instead he cut a frustrated figure and missed a golden chance to put City ahead.
Raheem Sterling failed to make much of an impact against Everton on Saturday afternoon
It sums up his luck at the moment that soon after he was substituted, Guardiola’s men scored the goals through Ilkay Gundogan and Sterling’s replacement, Kevin De Bruyne, to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.
Despite Sterling’s importance to Guardiola throughout his golden years at The Etihad there is no guarantee on current form he’ll be part of the team that faces Erling Haaland’s Dortmund in the Champions League quarter-finals.
That would be a shame for Sterling, and for England manager Gareth Southgate who wants him confident and in-form for the Euros, but also for City, who are at their best when Sterling is flying.
Perhaps it’s fortunate that an international break is coming up. Maybe Sterling can fill his boots against San Marino and Albania to get his Mojo flowing.
Sterling worked hard against Everton but things just didn’t happen, almost as if he were trying too hard.
The forward’s recent struggles continued and he was substituted during the second half
His attempt to test Everton’s third-choice goalkeeper Joao Viriginia was overly ambitious and when City won a free-kick in a dangerous position, he pulled rank over the more recognised taker Ilkay Gundogan and wasted the opportunity.
A kick from Lucas Digne towards the end of the half left him limping for a period, summing up his luck.
To be fair to Sterling, his mentality in adversity has never been questioned. He started the second period positively, taking on Andre Gomes with his pace and winning a free-kick. He then fired over with a shot that followed some neat chest control.
With younger guns like Phil Foden emerging for club and country, Sterling knows he can’t rest on his laurels having been undroppable for so long.
He has built up a huge amount of credit for what he did in City’s 100-point season, their Treble season and England’s run to the World Cup semi-final.
But at City, you have to earn your right to play with Guardiola having the strongest squad in Europe to select from.
With one goal in eight games, it’s not firing for Sterling at the moment. When Fernandinho set him up on the edge of the box with the game goalless after an hour, Sterling’s finish was accurate but the contact not crisp enough to fly in.
Staerling’s once automatic place in the Man City starting XI is now not so certain
Virginia was able to scramble across and get his fingertips to the shot. Sterling ended up sitting on the floor, almost laughing in disbelief.
After 80 minutes, Guardiola decided it was time for De Bruyne and Sterling, a one-time invincible, was hooked. Within four minutes, City were ahead through Gundogan. Then, De Bruyne added a rasper.
Sterling moved quickly last week to close down rumours of a rift with Guardiola, writing on social media ‘that is absolutely FALSE’ using capital letters for impact.
His manager said he hadn’t needed to as there is no problem between them, though he acknowledged: ‘I don’t expect the guys who are not selected are happy.’
Sterling wants to be happy again but to play in this City team, he has to up his game.