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Man City’s strong start to the season a direct result of Sterling


Many a pundit and fan has cast Raheem Sterling, Manchester City’s £49 million man, as this season’s pantomime villain in the Premier League. Sterling’s demand of a move away from Liverpool, which is historically a more successful club than City and his schemes to force the move, made Sterling’s transfer one of the most-controversial in recent memory. Yet in all of the discussion of the deal for the 20 year-old, the voices describing his potential positive impact on the Blues efforts to regain the Premier League title were ignored.

A narrative has developed around Sterling as a greedy young player who is indicative of what is wrong in soccer. With the season already started, Manchester City has exploded out of the gates with two successive 3-0 victories. However, the microanalysis of Sterling’s play from some quarters has been off-the-mark. We’ve read that he is a bad finisher and has added little to the Blues attack.While his finishing has been poor, his impact on City’s success after two matches cannot be understated.

Much of the discussion around Manchester City’s start, including Sunday’s 3-0 thumping of defending champion Chelsea, has revolved around the creativity of David Silva and the revival of Yaya Toure. Both of these players have contributed mightily to the Blues cause but much of the impact both have made has come down to Sterling’s presence on the pitch.

SEE MORE: Read Manchester City’s 2015/16 season preview.

Sterling’s ability to make runs and pull players out of position has cleared space for Silva, giving the diminutive Spaniard another outlet with which to play diagonal balls in attacking areas. Two seasons ago, when City won the title playing a 4-4-2, Silva struck up a great partnership with compatriot Alvaro Negredo, whose movement was excellent. Last season, the Blues missed that whether playing in a 4-4-2 with a second striker playing alongside Sergio Aguero, or in a 4-5-1 with Samir Nasri or Frank Lampard flanking Silva in attacking parts of the pitch. Sterling’s movement has also created space for Toure sitting in the center of midfield.

Another clear beneficiary of Sterling’s presence has been Aleksandar Kolarov whose marauding runs down the left flank for the Blues has been the greatest change to the City attack thus far this season. Kolarov, now in his sixth season with the club, has often been criticized for being a shaky defender but his work product going forward has never been in question. Few players in English football have as strong a left foot or can deliver as accurate a cross from wide areas as the Serbian international.

Kolarov has had a devastating impact on the opposition in the first two matches of the season. Sterling’s ability to draw defenders inside with mazy runs and to play well-weighted passes into Kolarov’s path have aided the Serbian’s revival.

Sterling’s pace was on full display early in the second half Sunday against Chelsea. Twice in the first three minutes after halftime, he blew by Branislav Ivanovic, drawing contact and fouls in dangerous areas. But pace is just one of Sterling’s assets which is why he has already been more impactful for the club than the likes of Scott Sinclair. His movement, including an ability to cut inside at the right time, and the understanding he has already developed with Kolarov and Silva have made the left side Manchester City’s attack appear unstoppable.

These are still early days in the Blues attempt to recapture the Premier League crown. Without a doubt significant challenges remain, but the returns thus far have been beyond promising – they have been a revelation and at this rate £49 million might look like a bargain for the former Liverpool star.

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  1. MC

    August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I like Sterling, he is great talent. He was toying with Chelsea # 2 (whoever that is) all day long. Suggesting that MC strong start is DIRECT result of RS is bit much. MC won league without RS. They failed to do same last year as few key players just didn’t perform (Kompany, Yaya and yes Edin Dzeko).

    With RS Man City can be scary good, he has great potential. However if MC defense doesn’t improve they will end up second to defensive-oriented-boring-to-watch teams like Chelsea.

  2. Tom

    August 20, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Exactly, for some people they dont even notice a player unless he scores, does a nice trick, or makes an assist, never mind give any credit for playing well. No he is not the only reason for our good start but for sure he is lifting the players around him and contributing a hell of a lot to the good team performances.

  3. Purdman

    August 20, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I have really been impressed with Sterling so far, and agree with the article. Sure, Silva, Aguero and Yaya have been on form, but Sterling has gelled seamlessly with the attacking mindset of the team, and his quick bursts of pace pair perfectly with Aguero and Silva’s one-two, quick passing in tight areas.

    While Nasri may retain possession and hold the ball better, City would often lack the incisive ability to get in the box or in dangerous areas while dominating possession. Sterling can hold the ball, but he offers a much greater threat of getting behind the defense from a Silva through ball. He appears to know when to pass and has been a joy to watch, and as he continues to gel with his new teammates it can only get better.

  4. Brn442

    August 20, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I actually agree with Kartik on this one. Sterling’s pace and energy, alongside Silva’s and Aguero’s, gave Chelsea’s defence fits.

    Yes, he needs to score more goals but his link play (at times better than Coutinho’s whilst at Liverpool), will be key.

    Will he bring City the league or glory in Europe, who knows but he has certainly freshened up the squad.

  5. MC

    August 20, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Negative sir. The real reason for good start are players that contributed in the 13/14 title run, but were nonexistent last year. Sterling has potential but so far he was NOT difference maker.

    • MC

      August 20, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Yaya and Kompany are those players. Forgot to include them…

  6. Smokey Bacon

    August 19, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I knew this would be a Kartik post from the ridiculous headline. The overated. one has had very little to do with City’s start to the season. The real reason they have made a good start has been Aguero, Yaya and Kompany rediscovering their form from two years ago. Wasn’t Sterling substituted on Sunday? Fail.

    • Flyvanescence

      August 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      Yes he was substituted but so often are tthe likes of Aguero and Silva. Leave it to Kartik to blow it out of proportion but he has made a very good impact, better than Nasri already.

      The real reason for City’s early dominance is Silva. He has been downright unplayable. Right now its his world and everybody else on the pitch is just living in it.

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