Crystal Palace vs Manchester City: Roy Hodgson reveals his admiration for Raheem Sterling

In particular, he is impressed at the way both Sterling and other players of his generation handle the ever-intense media spotlight

Robert Dunford
Saturday 13 April 2019 15:27
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Dele Alli praises Raheem Sterling for dealing with criticism

Roy Hodgson has revealed his admiration for Raheem Sterling both as a player and an outspoken critic of racial abuse, as Crystal Palace host Manchester City this afternoon.

The 71-year old has played a large part in the career path of the young forward, giving him debuts at club and international level.

The first, for Liverpool in 2010, came for Sterling when he was just fifteen years old against Borussia Monchengladbach in a friendly.

History repeated itself for the second time two years later, when Hodgson was England manager. Sterling was one of six international debutants in a 4-2 loss against Sweden, a game most notable for a 30-yard bicycle kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ironically, Sterling may face another player who also made his first appearance that evening in Stockholm, with Wilfried Zaha set to line up for Palace today.

Although the path of both has rarely crossed since – the Palace manager admitted he does not keep in contact with the 24-year old – Hodgson remains a big fan.

In particular, he is impressed at the way both Sterling and other players of his generation handle the ever-intense media spotlight.

He said “Raheem has definitely matured as player and person, he’s taken a lot of responsibility lately to stand up and become a spokesman for the discrimination we’re experiencing.

“I’ve seen all those boys mature with dealing with the press, The FA have done well dealing in encouraging that, even from my time. Certainly pushed even further forward to ensure the players are prepared to stand up and speak.

“When I see them speak I sometimes think back how they were when they first bought into that national team, how shy they were and how anxious they were in front of the TV cameras, in much bigger press conferences that we’re holding here.

“I now see them handle them with aplomb, and that’s a credit to them and the people who are helping them develop those skills as well.”

Although Hodgson and Sterling last worked together in the ill-fated Euro 2016 campaign, the Crystal Palace manager is puzzled even now at some of the criticism aimed at the forward then, especially after the Russia group game.

Hodgson last worked with Sterling in 2016

He added “We had some success until England played Russia and people took it upon themselves to criticise him and say he was no good.

“Which we as a coaching staff couldn’t understand because we thought he had a good game – and he couldn’t understand it because he was so pleased to be back and playing well in his eyes, and in the coaches’ eyes too.”

Sterling will be looking to add to his twenty five goals for club and country at Selhurst Park today, although his last strike in a Manchester City shirt came in the seven goal demolition of Schalke a month ago.

Hodgson believed that the influence of Pep Guardiola and the playing staff has helped push the striker on.

Guardiola has helped improve Sterling

“As a player, no doubt he’s scoring goals. In the beginning that was a criticism leveled at him which was a fair one.

“You couldn’t do that now, he’s scoring lots of goals, he’s benefited I think from playing with the quality of players around him at Manchester City,

“He’s got a very good coach who’s helping him, City and England are seeing the benefits.

“I hope I can say these nice things and he’ll be nice and quiet on Sunday and won’t torment us.”

James Tomkins is out for the rest of the season after injuring his groin against Newcastle last week. Martin Kelly is therefore likely to be alongside Scott Dann in the centre of defence.

PROBABLE TEAM: V Guaita – A Wan-Bissaka, M Kelly, S Dann, P van Aanholt – A Townsend, J McArthur, L Milivojevic, C Kouyate – M Batschuayi, W Zaha

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