Manuel Pellegrini backs striker Raheem Sterling ahead of League Cup final
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has backed striker Raheem Sterling to put in a decisive performance against his previous club Liverpool when the two teams meet in the League Cup final at the iconic Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Sterling moved from Liverpool to Manchester City last July after turned down a new contract which would have kept him at Anfield. Sterling's decision angered Liverpool fans and Pellegrini accepted that it Sterling will not find it easy going against his old club.
"For every player, it is never comfortable to play against an old team. Everyone has links, friends inside the club. But he is a professional player. He came here to win titles. I'm sure he will have a very good performance," the Chilean was quoted as saying by the British media on Saturday.
I don't think he has anything to prove: Pellegrini
Sterling became something of a hate figure at Anfield after joining City in a £49 million deal. His first match against Liverpool ended in humiliation when the Juergen Klopp's men steamrolled their way to 4-1 thrashing of City at the Etihad Stadium.
The England striker is expected to face more hostility from Liverpool fans at Wembley, but Pellegrini is confident that Sterling will be able to rise to the occasion.
"I don't think he has anything to prove. For him that motivation is very good," Pellegrini said.
"I hope he will be focused just on having a good performance and not thinking about the boos he receives during the game or what happened in the past."
Pellegrini however, asserted that Sterling's move to City will be successful only if he wins trophies at his new club.
"If we win a couple of titles and Raheem has an important performance it will be a good season for him.
"I don't think it's good to analyse his season in this moment. He has done good things, bad things and was very important the other day [in Kiev]. He is a very young player so must improve every year. If you ask me if I'm happy to bring him here this year then yes, I am very happy. He continues to improve and give a lot of things to our squad," the 62-year-old remarked.
"He has a lot of speed, good technique, goals -- that's why we bought him. I'm sure he can be a very successful player but it will depend on the way he improves."