Pep Guardiola felt that Raheem Sterling deserved more praise than he got in the dissection of Manchester City’s win over Liverpool.
Phil Foden rightly dominated headlines after the 20-year-old followed up two assists with a breathtaking goal to seal the 4-1 win over Jurgen Klopp’s side in style. Ahead of an FA Cup tie that will see the youngster go up against the manager that he won the Under-17 World Cup with in Swansea coach Steve Cooper, much of the spotlight has remained on Foden’s progression at City and Guardiola’s development of him.
The City manager brushed off any invitation to be smug about Foden in the face of the criticism he has had over the last three years when others have felt the player should be used more, and instead chose to praise his City and England teammate.
Sterling has not scored the goals that he should have this season and had never enjoyed himself at Anfield since leaving the club in acrimonious circumstances, but led the Blues with distinction on Sunday as he earned the penalty in the first half before creating the opener and scoring the third.
“Nobody talks much about Raheem but he played in Anfield the best game he has played in the last two months by far,” said Guardiola.
“He was important in the first goal, the penalty in the first half. Every action he made was decisive in the final third. Of course Phil was so important in the goals and especially in the fantastic last one but Raheem was fundamental for us. He was not in the best form in the last month but I hope he can continue this level like he played in Anfield.
“Now it’s just calm. I know Phil is ready to play because his physical condition is extraordinary, his recovery and the way he runs in many moments without the ball in the game, but I’ll handle it the same way I handled it. When I believe he can help us he will play – and if I feel someone else deserves to play then he’s not going to play.”