Euro 2016: Pep Guardiola intervenes to boost Raheem Sterling's falling confidence
Pep Guardiola, the new Manchester City manager has personally reached out to Raheem Sterling in an attempt to reassure the England winger about his future and offer him a confidence boost ahead of England’s round-of-16 match against Iceland.
Raheem Sterling has had a torrid year, and failed to live up to expectations after his multi-million-pound move to Manchester City and has had an underwhelming Euro 2016 so far as well. England’s manager, Roy Hodgson has been reluctant to give him more playing time because of his lack of form and confidence, and he remains a thoroughly promising player who’s been consistently failing to deliver.
What will perhaps come as a surprise to most people who’ve been assuming that Sterling will be on the peripheries of Guardiola’s overhaul of the City squad, is that the former Barcelona manager apparently sanctioned the deal even though he was working at the time as Bayern Munich manager.
Guardiola had already been lined up to replace Manuel Pellegrini and City’s owners are understood to have consulted him before making Sterling the most expensive English player in history.
Sterling had started England’s first group stage match against Russia and played the first half of the game against Wales before he was taken off due to an unconvincing performance. He didn’t come on in England’s last group match against Slovakia that they drew 0-0 and isn’t expected to start in their knockout Euro 2016 encounter.
Guardiola tried his best to cheer up and inspire the former Liverpool player though, and did his best to communicate to him that he considers Sterling a crucial component of his Manchester City set up. Guardiola explained it was important to block out negative thinking and encouraged Sterling to remember the qualities that had made him one of the outstanding young players in English football.
“As long as you work for me, I’ll fight for you,” Guardiola told Sterling. “Keep your head up, don’t worry, I know you’re a good player and you are a big part of my plans.”
What effect Guardiola’s pep talk will have, remains to be seen and also whether he gets a chance to impress in England’s crucial encounter with Iceland or not. While Hodgson has mentioned that Sterling has looked bright in training, there are said to be concerns among England’s management about the player’s lack of form and whether his self-belief might have been damaged by the criticism he has been attracting.