Hat-trick hero Raheem Sterling can still improve, says Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola believes hat-trick hero Raheem Sterling can still improve further and it will be up to the Manchester City forward as to whether he fulfils his potential and becomes a great of the game.
Sterling, 24, had a hand in all five goals, including an 11-minute hat-trick, as City romped to a 5-1 Champions League Group C victory over Italian side Atalanta yesterday morning (Singapore time). He has taken his tally to 12 goals in 13 appearances this season.
His link-up play with Sergio Aguero and Phil Foden was at times breathtaking, leading to former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand to suggest on BT Sport after the game that Sterling was now among the top five players in the world.
Said Ferdinand: "He's in the top five players in the world now, definitely... Because (of) the amount of goals he's getting, the effect he's having on games. It's impossible to keep him out."
Guardiola, meanwhile, said of Sterling: "How much better he can become depends on him.
"I think he has that desire to get better. I say all credit is for him. He's a guy whose physicality is incredible.
"The day after a game, he could play another. He can play both sides, he's fast, defensively he helps us a lot, he's an extraordinary player."
City fell behind to a Ruslan Malinovsky penalty but reacted by stepping up the tempo after a slow start to overwhelm their visitors and make it three wins from three in the pool. They will seal a knockout place with a win at Atalanta on Nov 6.
The only blemish on the night was a red card for teenager Foden, who had been excellent until two sloppy pieces of play saw him collect a couple of yellow cards in a six-minute spell.
But Guardiola backed the 19-year-old, saying this will be a lesson for him. - REUTERS