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.”


Poised for leap before pandemic, women’s cricket limps into future

Updated 30 May 2020

Poised for leap before pandemic, women’s cricket limps into future

  • While the final financial cost of the coronavirus shutdown will not be known for months, perhaps years, the early signs for women’s cricket are relatively positive

LONDON: Women’s cricket appeared poised for a great leap forward when Australia beat India in the Twenty20 World Cup final in front of a record 86,174 crowd at Melbourne Cricket Ground in March.

Less than three months since that heady night, though, it risks slipping back into the shadows cast by the men’s game after being grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cricket boards are staring at financial losses ranging from significant to severe as a result of the coronavirus shutdown and there is a danger the women’s game will bear the brunt of the cost-cutting.

“This is a concern across the game, and in particular in countries where there isn’t an agreed model in place ensuring gender equity principles are built into the game,” Tom Moffat, the CEO of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), told Reuters.

“We are urging the ICC and the boards to continue to invest in sustainable foundations for the women’s game around the world.”

While the final financial cost of the coronavirus shutdown will not be known for months, perhaps years, the early signs for women’s cricket are relatively positive.

That does not mean there will be no pain, but it may not be overly inequitable compared to cuts the men’s game faces.

England’s centrally contracted women players volunteered a three-month pay cut and their board has put on hold plans to introduce 40 domestic contracts as part of its 20 million pounds ($24.72 million) investment in the women’s game.

Several uncontracted female cricketers have also been denied what was to be their only source of income after the launch of The Hundred competition was postponed to next year.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will pay up to 24 domestic players a regional retainer starting on June 1 as an interim solution.

“The momentum behind the women’s game has been staggering in the last few years and it is still firmly our ambition to build on that,” Clare Connor, the ECB’s managing director of women’s cricket, said earlier this month.

“While we still intend to award those full-time contracts in 2020, we want to try to support our players as much as we can until that point.”