Sterling not on same level as Messi, Ronaldo, says Guardiola

Man City attacker Raheem Sterling celebrates a goal against Spurs. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 September 2019

Sterling not on same level as Messi, Ronaldo, says Guardiola

  • Others have recently been comparing Sterling to the two dominant players of the last decade

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola would love Raheem Sterling to reach the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Manchester City manager is not sure if any player will be able to equal the feats of that legendary pair.

Others have recently been comparing Sterling to the two dominant players of the last decade.

England manager Gareth Southgate suggested Sterling could eventually be mentioned in the same breath as Messi and Ronaldo when asked how far the City winger could go if he maintains his superb form.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has also said that he sees Sterling as a potential future winner of the Ballon d'Or — an award Barcelona star Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo have each won five times.

City manager Guardiola is thrilled at Sterling's progress during their three years working together, but having also coached Messi at Barca, he knows the exceptional standards required at that exalted level.

“Right now, Raheem is not in that level, but maybe in the future I wish. It would be a dream for him and for all of us,” said Guardiola.

“The consistency of these two guys, they are legends, something unique in world football.

“If Raheem can target that level — wow. We will be there to help him and of course he can do it.

"But right now, nobody, not in the club, or in all the clubs in the world can compare with these two guys and what they have done every single week for ten years. Nobody.”

Sterling enjoyed his best goal-scoring season last year as he netted 25 times to help City win the domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.

He has started the new season in electric form with eight goals in seven games for club and country. 

FASTFACT

Raheem Sterling enjoyed his best goal-scoring season last year as he netted 25 times to help City win the domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.

He scored in both Euro 2020 qualifiers for England during the international break.

To understand what Sterling is up against, Ronaldo's mark of 29 club goals last season for Juventus is the lowest figure either he or Messi have recorded in the last decade.

As City prepare to resume their Premier League campaign, away to Norwich on Saturday, Guardiola has noticed how the 24-year-old is becoming much more clinical in front of goal — as Sterling aims to improve on his best league tally of 18 from 2017-18.

“Before Raheem made good actions and dribbles, but he didn’t finish too much. Now he is a player who can win games for himself,” Guardiola said.

“It is a case of practice, practice, practice — and mentality. The guy who scores goals is because he arrives in front of goal. If you are not there, it’s impossible.

“In the beginning, he didn't get there. Now he is always there. I have the sense that he has the desire and commitment to score goals and that's why he scores more goals and has more assists.”


Man United beats Chelsea 2-0, throws open race for Champions League spots

Updated 18 February 2020

Man United beats Chelsea 2-0, throws open race for Champions League spots

  • Headers by Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire ensured the win

LONDON: Manchester United threw open the race for the final Champions League qualification spots in the Premier League by beating fourth-place Chelsea 2-0 thanks to headers by Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire on Monday.
With 12 games remaining, seven points separate Chelsea and 11th-place Burnley, with the team finishing fifth also set to earn a place in next season’s Champions League following UEFA’s decision to punish Man City for serious breaches of financial regulations by handing the English champions a two-year European ban.
Martial glanced in a header off a right-wing cross by Aaron Wan-Bissaka to give United the lead in the 45th minute at Stamford Bridge, before Maguire planted home a corner from January signing Bruno Fernandes in the 66th.
Maguire, United’s captain, was perhaps fortunate to still be on the field, with the match officials opting not to punish the England defender for appearing to kick out at Michy Batshuayi after tumbling off the playing surface in front of the dugouts.
“I know I caught him but I felt like he was going to fall on me and the natural reaction was to straighten my leg so that if he was to fall on me, to hold him up,” Maguire said. “It probably looks worse than it was.
“I did catch him ... but I knew at the time I had no intent to hurt him or kick him.”
Chelsea was on the wrong end of two other decisions by VAR, firstly disallowing a volleyed goal by Kurt Zouma in the 56th because of a push by Cesar Azpilicueta on United left back Brandon Williams. Azpilicueta seemed to have been pushed a split-second earlier by Fred.
Then, with 13 minutes to go, substitute Olivier Giroud had a goal ruled out by VAR for a tight offside, leaving Chelsea manager Frank Lampard looking thoroughly glum as he sat in his technical area.
Chelsea has long been in fourth place, but has only won three of its last 11 games in the league to give a slew of rivals clubs hope of catching up.
One of them is United, which climbed to seventh place with this win — three points behind Chelsea and two adrift of fifth-place Tottenham.
“This season, we have been far too inconsistent,” Maguire said. “We have won at Manchester City, beat Chelsea at home, got a point against Liverpool, but we have let ourselves down against the teams where the pressure is on to break them down.”
Injury problems are starting to bite at Chelsea, too. Top scorer Tammy Abraham and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi missed the game because of injury, while central midfielder N’Golo Kante lasted 11 minutes before hobbling off. Center back Andreas Christensen didn’t come out for the second half after sustaining a knock to the head late in the first period, just before Martial beat the Denmark defender to a header for the first goal.
Lampard’s main gripe, though, was his team’s failure to finish off chances once again. Batshuayi was the biggest culprit, spurning two great chances in the first half in his first start in the league this season.
“We are fourth because of some of the good stuff we’ve done and because of the nature of the league, everyone taking points off each other,” Lampard said. “But there’s a lot of work to do because you can see the problem — that’s putting the ball in the back of the net.
“I feel like a broken record. We have to put things to bed by scoring goals.”
Chelsea hosts Tottenham on Saturday and would finally get overtaken with another loss.
“The season starts here,” Lampard said.
Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo, who signed for United on deadline day in the January transfer window, came on in second-half stoppage time for his debut and had a late chance saved by Willy Caballero, who again started in goal ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Two players struck the post from free kicks in the second half, Fernandes for United and Mason Mount for Chelsea.