The winger scored two goals and supplied two assists in the 6-1 victory but the City boss believes he can play even better
Pep Guardiola believes there is still more to come from Raheem Sterling, who produced an incredible performance as Manchester City put Southampton to the sword with a 6-1 victory.
City regained top spot in the Premier League in a game which also saw Sterling reach 50 goals for the club after scoring a brace and adding two assists against the sorry Saints.
It’s been a good week for the winger, after he verbally agreed a new five year deal with the reining champions and Guardiola was full of praise for the player.
“He is in incredible form,” Guardiola said. “He is sharp, fast, clever, fighting, ambitious and is decisive.
“He can play on both sides and in the middle and receive the ball behind the lines and always commit the centre-back with a lot of aggression.
“It was an incredible performance with and without the ball but still with the young guys like him and Leroy (Sane) I would like to feel they can still improve.”
On this form it was easy to see why City have worked so hard to tie down the 23-year-old Sterling to new terms.
He was the man Sane was looking for when his cross was turned into his own net by Wesley Hoedt for the opening goal, and Sterling then set up Sergio Aguero for the second before playing a role in David Silva’s strike that made it 3-0.
After Danny Ings pulled one back from the spot – Southampton’s first league goal since September 17 – Sterling got City’s fourth in first-half stoppage time, then the fifth in the 67th minute before ending the day by setting up Sane for number six.
“I have the feeling he is now enjoying scoring goals and making assists and being important in winning games,” Guardiola added. “He is becoming a winning player and he is just 23 years old. We cannot forget that.
“He is stable and is focused on what he has to do to become a better player. If he has his mind to become a better player, and think it is not enough what I am like as a football player, he can reach whatever he wants.”
Sterling could take inspiration from Aguero, who scored his 150th Premier League goal but also turned in the sort of performance Guardiola demands of his forwards, regularly tracking back and winning possession.
“Of course,” Guardiola said when asked if this was how he wants to see Aguero play. “I spoke many times with Sergio. I am not asking Sergio to be Gabriel (Jesus) or Kyle Walker but I am asking for the best Sergio…to be aggressive, with and without the ball.”
Southampton may have ended their barren run in front of goal, but Ings’ 30th-minute penalty never felt like changing the game after City scored three times in the opening 18 minutes.
“That is the game gone right from the outset,” manager Mark Hughes said. “Any other work you have prepared and the game plan you want to implement goes out the window.”
But Southampton kept battling and had six shots on target, the most City have faced in the league this season, to offer some encouragement.
“It is difficult when you are down,” Hughes added. “You can’t over-commit because Man City have the ability to run over the top of you and it gets even more embarrassing.
“Six-one is not a result we take any pride in but the fact we were trying to create chances when the game was gone shows the character was good.”
Source : TalkSport