We have started to witness some great displays from youngsters in the Guardiola Era at Manchester City of late and from those performances we can see why Sterling and Sane are touted to be the future of the Eastlands club. Having failed to defend the title in Manuel Pellegrini’s second season after winning it in the 2013-14 season, the Manchester outfit started to cash in once again in the summer window. Two important players were recruited into the squad with one being the former Chelsea midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, the other was ex-Liverpool and England youngster Raheem Sterling.
Spending an enormous amount of money on the Englishman, Man City brought in a player who at that time was considered to be one of the best young English talents. Sterling arrived with the intent of winning trophies after a stunning season with Liverpool but failed to live upto the promise. But Pep Guardiola always had Raheem Sterling as an important player in his plans. Pep called up Sterling during England’s disastrous Euro 2016 campaign and offered his help and support.
One of the most interestingly spoken points about City this term is the width offered by Pep’s players. This is mainly because of Pep’s positional play and his aim to deploy wingers very wide. In his 2-3-5 at City, the five forward players almost play in the same line and this means that the wide players tend to hug the touch line. Sterling and Sane are deployed in the wide areas with Sterling in right and the latter at the left on most occasions. In certain situations, they would be inverted by Pep as Sterling would slot into the left flank and Sane into the right which provides them the channels to cut inside with the favored foot and aim at the goal.
From the above two instances we can identify the wingers – Sane and Sterling, staying very high up the pitch and staying very wide as well. This provides the team with more width in the final third and makes the pitch shorter for them to cover. By using this tactic, Pep believes that this helps stretch the play and create space infield for central midfielders to create chances infront of the box. Having played David Villa and Henry as inside forwards at Barcelona and being quite successful at it, Guardiola turned Robben and Ribery into beasts as Bayern were rightly feared for their progressions through both the flanks.
Sterling has been the most beneficial player under Pep as he has rejuvenated from his poor season under Manuel Pellegrini. He can even be stated as one of the consistent players for City and he has excelled for them especially in the cup competitions. Sane after a difficult start at Manchester, has burst into life after a brilliant second half display against Arsenal. Since that game, the two of them have been in form together and has been City’s ever-improving attacking identity.
Sterling has made more contributions to the team in terms of scoring and creating goals as he has been directly involved in 17 goals. He has scored nine and further created eight more goals for teammates. Sane on the other hand has been a regular face in the side only from the end of last year. He has made seven goals and three assists since his arrival. But Sane’s form has been impeccable as all his seven goals have come from his last 14 appearances. Over the whole season, Sterling has managed a goal every 4.5 games whereas Sane has scored one in every 3.7 games.
Image credit: The18
Sterling netting one past Subasic in the 5-3 thriller at Etihad.
Also for a fact, Sterling has taken an average of two shots per game in the League while Sane has been more conservative averaging just one shot per game. In his 25 PL games for City, Sterling has created an average of 1.5 chances which is better when compared to Sane’s 1.2 chances created per game in the 16 games he has played. Both the players have been quite brilliant in the recent games and this is mainly because of Pep’s aim of playing them very wide and supporting them in his tactics to come inside in the right areas at the right time. At the moment Sterling has slightly edged Sane in certain areas but given Sane’s brilliant ability to create and score more goals, one may expect both the players to end the season with more or less the same statistics.
With young talents like Sterling and Sane coming into limelight under Pep Guardiola at the right moment, City will be happy to wait for the results to come. Considering Pep’s previous success and accolades won at the highest level, City’s fan base can be happy that the future is in safe hands with the likes of Sterling, Sane, Jesus, Stones and De Bruyne under Pep Guardiola.