The England forward has become one of the Premier League’s top performers but his manager wants more
Pep Guardiola has challenged Raheem Sterling to become Manchester City ‘s big-game player.
And the Etihad Stadium manager is confident the England forward will rise to the task with a little more experience.
Sterling, 24, has contributed directly to 20 City goals so far this season, most recently scoring the opener in the 7-0 FA Cup win over Rotherham on Sunday.
But Guardiola believes he can do more, especially against the top teams when chances are at a premium – and says the former Liverpool man must be ‘more clinical’.
“Raheem’s work ethic, his physicality is incredibly strong, he has this mentality to create chances and score goals and it’s good for him,” said Guardiola.
“He’s scored more goals now than in our first season.
“He has to be more clinical and precise in the important games. We created a lot of chances (against Rotherham) but if we play against Liverpool or in the Champions League we create just two or three chances.
“We don’t have more because the opponents are good, so in that moment we need him. We need him to be precise and to be there.
“I think he improved a lot and it’s the same with Phil [Foden]. We cannot expect him to be precise and clear and make good decisions in every single action.
“When he is 26 or 27 he will be an incredible, much better player, give us more joy with the way he plays but he still has many things to improve.”
Sterling has grown to become a key player for club and country in the last few years.
But Guardiola refused to take personal credit for his rise, adding: “All the credit, we said many times… when the game starts, the influence from myself and our staff is zero on what happens in the game.
“We have one idea, we tell them what maybe is going to happen. The players are the artists, the credit absolutely belongs to them.”
City face Burton in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final at the Etihad on Wednesday before returning to Premier League action against Wolves next Monday night.