Pep Guardiola hails Raheem Sterling for leading Man City improvement and gives verdict on VAR

City manager was unhappy with their first half performance but revelled in their improvement after the break to record a comfortable 5-0 win – which could have been more had it not been for VAR

Jack de Menezes
Saturday 10 August 2019 15:56
Comments
Pep Guardiola: I only hope that VAR does not make mistakes

Pep Guardiola heaped praise on Raheem Sterling for taking his pre-season form into the opening Premier League victory of Manchester City’s season as they thrashed West Ham United 5-0, with the England forward opening his account with a hat-trick.

Sterling scored five goals in as many games for City in pre-season including the opener in last weekend’s Community Shield triumph, and he was at his clinical best to score three second-half goals as City sent out a loud statement to go top of the Premier League – above expected title rivals Liverpool following their 4-1 win over Norwich City on Friday night.

City manager Guardiola was keen to highlight how much of an impact his wide players provide, given the goalscoring threat of Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez adds to the strike-force of Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero that last season made them the top goalscorers in the Premier League.

“He (Sterling) is a guy that, you know when you have a team and a striker who scores a goal, but the people who play outside him as a winger can score goals, your team is going to score a lot of goals,” Guardiola said.

“Today Raheem scored and Bernardo’s going to score and it was an incredible performance today from Riyad Mahrez, an incredible level. So it’s good. I think in all of the pre-season games (Sterling) scored goals from the beginning, so every single game he scored a goal. But in the first half, he can do better.”

Guardiola wasn’t satisfied with the landslide victory given that City were only 1-0 up at the break.

“In terms of five goals, it is the perfect start yes,” he explained. “But the performance of the first half was far away from where we want to be. But the other (half) is normal.

“We knew it was difficult away from home, 12:30pm kick-off, hot. We are still not in the top condition and I knew that we missed and lost a lot of simple balls, so it’s so difficult to have a good tempo of our game.

"It was important to get three points, a clean sheet. At 2-0, they have a chance. Overall for the first game it is an incredible result. The second half was much better. More calm, but still we have many things to improve."

City also involved themselves in a moment of Premier League history as they became the team responsible for the first VAR-overturned decision, with Gabriel Jesus having a second goal ruled out after Sterling was judged to have been offside.

Replays showed that Sterling was the offside by the smallest of margins, with referee Mike Dean relaying that it was his armpit that was judged to have been the body part behind the last defender, while City also endured two other nervous VAR reviews when Sterling’s second was reviewed for a possible offside and Sergio Aguero’s saved penalty was ordered to be retaken as West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski had come off his line.

Raheem Sterling scored three goals as Manchester City thrashed West Ham

It left fans chanting in opposition of VAR, singing “What the f*** is going on?”, but Guardiola stressed that it will take some getting used to – not just for the players and managers but for fans as well.

"You have to be mentally strong when VAR is not on your side,” the Spaniard added. “You think at 0-3 the game is almost over but at 0-2, then you have to make an incredible save to prevent it going 1-2 and the game is completely different.

“In that period where you are celebrating, you have to be calm and be strong, it is going to change the dynamic not just for the team but for the spectators. The spectators were quiet, and after 0-3, 0-2, they were looking and thinking ‘oh we can celebrate’. It will be a good lesson for our future but it is what it is.”

VAR played a big role in costing City a goal and handing them one minutes later

Guardiola also gave his verdict on new signing Rodri’s first Premier League appearance, with the Spain midfielder starting alongside Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.

“The same as the team,” Guardiola noted, “so he started like this, like that (shaky) but after he grew up with the rhythm of the team.

“It’s important with even losing some balls that he always had the personality to ask again and ask again and play. He never dismissed that or got sad with what was going on, and again he gave a good performance.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in