A potential insight into why Raheem Sterling played less towards the end of last season has been provided recently.
Sterling out of favour
Towards the end of last season, Raheem Sterling fell out of favour at Manchester City.
The Englishman, once one of City’s star men, was being used as a bit-part player in the Sky Blues’ second team.
Instead, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan were all being deployed ahead of Sterling in City’s bigger games.
In the league, Sterling did actually continue to keep playing regularly, but this was due to City already having the title wrapped up and Pep instead opting to use his first-team in the key Champions League clashes.
Guardiola and Sterling fall out
Why though, did Sterling begin to fall out of favour under Guardiola?
Of course, one factor was his form, which had been on the decline for a while.
However, The Athletic’s Sam Lee has now shed some light as to why Sterling’s relationship with Pep suffered towards the end of last season.
And, according to Lee, it began following City’s 2-0 loss to Manchester United in the league in March. Sterling was benched for the following game vs Southampton and is said to have made his feelings known to his boss:
When the line-up was confirmed in the hours before the match, Sterling was angry and made his feelings known to Guardiola, so much so that the City boss left him out of the squad altogether a few days later, and the relationship suffered in the weeks and months afterwards.
Why then, did Guardiola start Sterling in the Champions League final?
Lee also provided an explanation for that, with it suggested that Guardiola wanted to show Sterling that he still trusted him by starting him in such a big game:
Just as England fans come to appreciate Raheem Sterling, his City goals have dried up and starts are harder to come by. He’s so good that he will surely regain top form, but it’s been a while now and the contract situation adds a layer of intrigue https://t.co/DzX4r1obZM
— Sam Lee (@SamLee) October 2, 2021
This article was edited by Ben Browning.
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