Raheem Sterling’s improvement at Man City, Tottenham’s decision to keep Son Heung-min and why David Moyes may be finished as a top-level manager all come up for debate after this weekend’s Premier League action.
SUPER STERLING OWES DEBT OF GRATITUDE TO PEP
“Liverpool only got £49m for Raheem Sterling?” a bemused Jurgen Klopp asked with a shrug of the shoulders at his Melwood press conference on Thursday.
As a relative newbie to the Premier League, he probably isn’t the only one caught by surprise at the form of the England winger this season, with several punters and pundits at the start of the season expecting him to be finished at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola.
And after an inconsistent first season at the club following that £49m move from Liverpool (the deal was struck at £44m, with an additional £5m in add-ons) the signing of Leroy Sane seemed to suggest the devaluation of Sterling might not just be something occurring on the back of Brexit!
But rather than grumble at his lot, Sterling has rolled up his sleeves and transformed his form around to the point now where the likes of Klopp are questioning Liverpool’s wisdom in cashing in for ‘just £49m’.
Since last summer, of course, the new TV deal has ensured transfer fees have risen well beyond normal inflation levels; so much so that the £49m spent on Sterling is beginning to look like something of a bargain.
9 – Raheem Sterling has scored four goals & assisted five more in eight competitive appearances for Man City this season. Revitalised.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 24, 2016
But what has been the secret to Sterling’s success? Nothing more than some good old man-management it seems.
Speaking about the player early in his City reign, Guardiola said: “He is a very nice guy and from the beginning I had a feeling this guy is good.
“I saw him many times playing for Liverpool and all my staff want to help him to be the real Sterling.”
And when questioned about the player again recently, the Spaniard commented: “I haven’t done anything other than working on his confidence, getting him to believe in himself. You can’t teach him skill – they were already there – just give him belief.”
And it’s that belief from his manager that has seen Sterling already play a part in nine goals for City this term. One thing Sterling has been accused of in the past in his ability to finish, and while still far from a polished product (his scuffed goal v Bournemouth last week is testimony to that) it’s clear the player is now showing that improvement in front of goal.
His strike, and City’s third, in their 3-1 win at Swansea on Saturday is testimony to that confidence and belief the player now has. Too many times in the past, Sterling would have fluffed his lines in that situation. But this is Sterling 2.0 – and the improved model is performing better than at anytime in his career.
What ‘father figure’ Guardiola has done is not rocket science, but like Brendan Rodgers, who had the player under his wing at Liverpool, all he has needed is some belief and confidence instilling in him. The rest has been entirely down to the player…..
SPURS ARE LUCKY SONS OF A…..
“After the Olympic Games his idea was to leave to go to Germany. In his mind, he would like to move but in the end he accepted the decision to stay and fight for his position.” The words of Mauricio Pochettino, who admitted he faced a battle in convincing Son Heung-min to stay at the club this summer amid interest in him from the Bundesliga.
But in convincing the player to stick around, Tottenham are finally now seeing the reward of their £22million investment.
The stats alone tell you all you need to know of the player’s improvement:
~ The player now has five goals and one assist in his last six Premier League appearances
~ The player has already equalled his tally of Premier League goals from last season.
If we’re talking about Sterling as one of the Premier League’s most improved players, then Tottenham’s shining Son deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
With Harry Kane not around for the next couple of months, Pochettino has asked his players to stand up and score more goals; it now seems the Son is ready to shine in north London.
MOYES MAY BE A GONER AS HE FLUFFS HIS LAST BIG CHANCE
Managers come, managers go, but very few have the durability to stay at the top of the game for several years in succession.
Just ask the likes of Steve McClaren, Ruud Gullit, Glenn Hoddle and David O’Leary, to name just a few, who all struggled to get back into the game after – for one reason or another – managerial failures / poor career choices.
And with what looks likely a third successive failure following doomed spells at Manchester United and Real Sociedad, could we soon be adding David Moyes’ name to that list…..?
First Premier League manager to lose their job this season?
With no wins in six and stranded at the bottom of the Premier League, you could not have envisaged a poorer start made by Moyes at Sunderland.
Jose Mourinho has come under fire of late for criticising his players in public; well that’s nothing compared to Moyes’ critique of his players after they chucked away a 2-0 lead at home to Crystal Palace to lose 3-2 on Saturday.
The Scot, who has already angered his supporters by suggesting the club can ‘expect another relegation battle this season’ (that before a ball was kicked) said after Christian Benteke’s injury-time winner…
“We need our players to assume a level of responsibility that it’s not all down to me and my staff.
“It’s simple – just do the basics well and then you won’t concede goals. I don’t know what we were doing giving Benteke a free run for his header.
“The players have got to do their bit.”
Insipid, uninspired and now throwing his players under the bus in public: Moyes already looks a dead man walking on Wearside.
Six different managers since January 2011 at the Stadium of Light suggests the club won’t be afraid to make a change if they feel it’s necessary either.
I may be being harsh on the Scot, who served Everton, and Preston before that, with relative distinction. And while he will still remain an attractive prospect for perhaps a Championship club or even, one day, Celtic, Moyes’ goose as a top-level manager may well and truly be cooked.
Sycophantic Henry Winter – Joey Barton love-in left a sour taste
In a previous guise this column was called the Monday Moan, that is, until, we kind of ran out of things to complain about…
Anyway, this gem of a conversation between Henry Winter and Joey Barton on Twitter might just have made the cut…
I won’t go on too much; rather let this social media exchange do its own talking.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) September 21, 2016
@Joey7Barton good luck with the book, Joey. It’ll do well because it’s so honest.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) September 22, 2016