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27th Mar 2018

Raheem Sterling reveals the brilliant tip Pep Guardiola gave him to improve his game

This shows why Guardiola is the best coach in football

Robert Redmond

Pep Guardiola has improved almost every player at his disposal since becoming the Manchester City’s head coach in 2016.

Nicolas Otamendi’s ability on the ball has massively improved, Kevin De Bruyne has developed into the most complete central midfielder in the sport and Sergio Aguero has become more of a team-player, adding an element of link-up play to his prolific goal scoring.

Raheem Sterling also appears to be completely transformed as a player. The England forward was once a tricky winger who often fluffed his lines in the opposition penalty area. He’s now an ice-cold assassin in front of goal. Sterling has 20 goals in 37 games for City this season, and has scored the winning goal in four Premier League matches – against Bournemouth, Huddersfield, Southampton and Newcastle United.

The 23-year-old’s natural talent was obvious from the time he broke into Liverpool’s first-team aged 17, but there’s no denying the impact Guardiola has had on his development. Sterling has been speaking about this impact, and revealed the ways in which the City manager has helped him improve.

Sterling explained that he had been controlling the ball with the outside of his boot, but Guardiola spotted this and advised against it. The City manager told his player that he was losing a split second by controlling a pass this way, and corrected this tiny flaw in Sterling’s game.

“When I used to dribble, I’d be on the wing and I’d control it with the outside of my foot – it slows the ball down,” Sterling told reporters on Monday, ahead of England’s friendly with Italy at Wembley.

“He brings you back to what you used to do with the under-eights, open your body up, gets the rhythm going again – little details like that.”

Sterling also spoke about this a few months ago, saying that he had controlled the ball with the outside of his boot because he thought it looked “nice.”

“‘If you control it like this,’ (Guardiola said to Sterling), ‘the ball’s stuck under your feet… One touch, open up quicker’. [Guardiola] has switched my brain back on. ‘Oh yeah — why aren’t I doing that?'”

Guardiola’s critics might argue that he is achieving success because he has spent hundreds of millions on players, but it’s small details like his advice to Sterling which make him the best coach in the world. It takes coaching on this micro-level to improve elite players, and he has certainly done that at City.