Sterling performances from Raheem under Guardiola
AS PEP Guardiola's Manchester City advance upon the Champions League group phase, previously maligned winger Raheem Sterling appears to have been reborn.
The 21-year-old joined City from Liverpool in a fractious £44 million (S$78 million) move last year but flattered to deceive. He ultimately lost his place in the starting XI.
He was also derided for some insipid England displays at Euro 2016.
But he is thriving under Guardiola and inspired City to a 5-0 win at Steaua Bucharest in their Champions League play-off round first leg.
"Obviously, he's been criticised a lot in the last year but the way he's responding is great," said team-mate Kevin de Bruyne ahead of tonight's return leg against Steaua.
"He's a great player. I don't care what people say about him after last year or the Euros.
"Footballers have ups and downs. Hopefully, he can continue this for us now because he is very dangerous."
Sterling set the tone for City in last week's first leg in Bucharest, winning an early penalty (which Sergio Aguero squandered) and laying on goals for David Silva and Aguero, who scored a hat-trick.
He won a penalty as City beat Sunderland 2-1 on the Premier League season's opening day. He impressed again in last Saturday's 4-1 win at Stoke City, unselfishly setting up a late goal for Nolito.
Sterling's return to form has not escaped the attention of new England manager Sam Allardyce.
"People say in football that when you have the dip, it's how well do you overcome it," Allardyce told reporters on Monday.
"So if he's through that period and his talent begins to blossom again... he's a terrific talent."