Raheem Sterling had an eventful debut for Manchester City, tripping over the ball, going viral on Twitter and managing to score a goal, all in the opening two minutes of his City career, but what else did we expect from the player involved in the most dramatic transfer saga of the summer?
Sterling has his detractors, and probably always will. Even some City fans have questioned the wisdom of paying £49 million to bring him from Liverpool, not to mention his wage packet, which Aidy Ward ensured would be a cracker, and to live up to a price tag so lofty is a hard ask no matter who you are, but from what Sterling has shown, he can do it.
Yes, at times last season he struggled with fatigue and dips in form, but he was playing at Liverpool. At City it will be a different ball game, and despite many people claiming he has ruined his development, it could be the making of him, and here are four reasons he will be a success at City.
He is talented
Pretty much the long and short of it. Say what you want about City, but they’re not that stupid anymore. Well, not as stupid as in the Robinho days at least. To pay £49 million for a player usually means that he at least offers the team something impressive, and on his debut Sterling showed just why the club had splashed the cash and risked even more wrath from opposition fans in signing him.
We saw last season that when he is good, Sterling is very, very good, and he almost carried Liverpool alone at times last season. He might be unpopular, but at the end of the day, who really cares? Sterling doesn’t and will go about his business as usual – and from what we saw on his City debut, the saga hasn’t damaged his form at all. If anything, he looks more relaxed now his future has been sorted out – for now at least.
The weight of the team won’t be on his shoulders
There will be plenty of time for Sterling to take naps, rests or whatever he wants, because the strength and depth at City is like few other clubs. He certainly won’t be expected to play 90 minutes week in, week out, in multiple competitions and produce match winning performances each and every time. City have plenty of other players who can do that as well.
At Liverpool, Sterling was used far too much, far too frequently. He is still so young, and it’s easy to forget that when you’re carrying a team. Sterling needs to be protected to an extent and allowed to develop without pushing his body to the limit that it breaks down.
Not only were Liverpool looking to him, but England were as well, and it doesn’t help if your face is on the front and back pages of the newspapers either. At City, the pressure will be off slightly once the initial furore over his price tag dies down. One big move for another club in the transfer window, and people will have forgotten Sterling cost £49 million – well all outside of the red half of Liverpool that is. That will allow him to shine, and only then will we see the real Raheem Sterling.
It’s hardly like he’s bothered about being booed
He doesn’t look like he gives a f*ck does he? At the end of the day, whatever his motives, Sterling has made a step up by joining City and leaving Liverpool. He has a better shot at winning titles, certainly has a better shot in Europe – the Champions League that is, not the Europa League – and he is making more money. Oh, and playing with better players. You can’t blame the lad for his move, just the way he made it.
That being said, there will always be those who do stick the knife in and boo him, especially when he returns to Anfield. Even during a pre-season game against Roma in Australia, Sterling was booed by the crowd, but managed to score a goal and looked more perplexed than upset by the booing.
Oh, and if he does get upset at the abuse, teammate Samir Nasri has very kindly stated ‘if he needs advice on the boos or anything, he can always ask me.’ There aren’t many people better placed to be fair…
It will make the other players work harder
Yes, Samir Nasri, we’re looking at you. Forget Sterling for a second and think what his arrival will do for players around him. It will make them sit up and think that they could well drop down to the bench if they fail to perform. Last season, City were so complacent it was disgusting at times, and no one was there to grab the game by the scruff of the neck in the final third and really take some responsibility for things.
With Sterling’s arrival, even if he has a quiet first season, it will at least make the other creative players at the club take note and up their game – because they will have no other choice if they want to be starting for the club week in, week out.
Often big splurges in the transfer window can make not only your rivals sit up and worry about what is going to happen and how much the club are improving, but it also adds a sense of urgency and competition to those already at the club in question – and that urgency was sorely lacking at the Etihad last season.