The Pep Guardiola-era at Manchester City has kicked off on the right foot, with the club enduring early success in both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
Three matches into the Premier League season and City are yet to face defeat, responding very well to Pep’s style of play, defeating the likes of West Ham United, Stoke City and Sunderland.
Not to mention absolutely battering Steaua Bucharest in UEFA Champions league play offs by an aggregate scoreline of 6-0.
With the start the club is having, success over the course of this long 2016/17 season appears imminent.
A particular stand-out
Although there are a great number of players in this Manchester City side that have flourished in their own ways respectively after Guardiola’s appointment, there is one player in particular, one 50 million euro player in particular, who has stood out greatly and has been attracting a considerable amount of attention as a result of his somewhat surprising top drawer performances as of late.
That player, whom I’m sure you already are aware of after I mentioned the price tag, is winger Raheem Sterling.
Struggling to live up to the price-tag
The 21 year old England winger moved to the Sky Blue side of Manchester for 50 million euros from Liverpool in July of 2015, and since then has not quite lived up to the hype, or the price that was paid for his services.
He struggled to find form in his first season at City, and was the victim of harsh criticism and frustration from both the media and Manchester City faithful alike.
Raheem was, and still, is one of England’s most talented and exciting young stars.
During his time at Liverpool he impressed week in and week out, and made a name for himself.
I also remember him being a standout performer at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil for England, earning himself some respect and attention he deserved.
Some big players were also impressed by him, with Italy and then Juventus legend Andrea Pirlo, who was a group stage opponent of Sterling’s, coming out and saying that of all the players in that England side, Sterling was the most threatening.
Safe to say he was a rather different player upon his big money transfer, eventually resulting in him being dropped from the first XI.
Boosted by Pep’s support
This season however, following an unsuccessful EURO 2016 adventure, Sterling was given a boost in preseason when Pep told him that he had confidence in him and that he knew he could be an important player for his team in the upcoming campaign.
That proved to be a good motivator, as he has appeared in all of Manchester City’s Premier League clashes, and played in the 5-0 away win vs Steaua Bucharest in Champions League.
In four appearances so far, Sterling has tallied 2 goals and 4 assists in all competitions, with more expected to come rapidly.
His confidence has noticeably sky-rocketed, with him showing desire to get forward, charging into channels behind defences, winning 1-on-1’s, and putting many dangerous balls into the opponents 18-yard box.
He has been very effective so far, and although it is very early in the season, he seems to be setting himself up for a strong showing in 2016/17.
First real challenge
Manchester City have done well in their opening few matches, but this high flying side is set to face their first few real challenges of the season.
Following the international break, City find themselves going to Old Trafford to take on rivals Manchester United on the 10th of September, before beginning their 2016/17 Champions League campaign at home to Borussia Monchengladbach of the Bundesliga only three days after the heavy derby.
After all that, there is no time to rest as they return to EPL action that same week.
This high quality side will have its physical fitness, squad depth and discipline tested, as they may have to face these three matches WITHOUT their main man, star striker Sergio Aguero, who is potentially facing a ban for an elbow on Winston Reid during the match against West Ham.
Written by JP Iannuzzi
Follow JP on Twitter @Iannuzzi_Calcio
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