Raheem Sterling has hailed Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for helping him turn around his year, in particular for encouraging the winger to “enjoy scoring goals”.
Sterling found the back of the net only six times in 31 Premier League games last season and was vilified by a section of England’s fans after the country’s poor Euro 2016 campaign.
However, the 21-year-old has impressed under Guardiola this campaign, scoring four goals in six league games. He was also named the Premier League’s player of the month for August.
“The manager has told me to enjoy scoring goals and seeing the ball go into the back of the net. He gives everyone the confidence, not just me,” Sterling told British media.
Sterling scored in City’s 3-1 win at Swansea City on Saturday, a victory that stretched their early lead at the top of the table to four points.
“He gives everyone the belief and the motivation. His speech before (the game) was fantastic and it means that when you go out on to the pitch you are really fired up for the game,” Sterling added.
Guardiola, who has guided the club to six straight league wins this season, said Sterling and the rest of the team needed to step up in the absence of midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, who limped off with a hamstring problem at the Liberty Stadium.
“Kevin is not going to play the next games and now we need to keep going and win the games without him. We have to do that,” Guardiola said.
“Raheem feels that. He feels that his team-mates appreciate his efforts – the staff, the coaches – we are so happy about what he has.
“But again this is only September. I would like to be in May with one game left but we are in September and we have only played six games. We have a lot of games to play.”
City travel to Tottenham Hotspur, who are second in the table, on Sunday. (Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney)