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Borussia Dortmund

Man City’s latest exhibition poses potentially problematic Raheem Sterling question – Andy Dunn


Who could not possibly have enjoyed this exhibition?

Who could not possibly have loved the way Kevin de Bruyne’s wrong foot rapped one in off the underside of the crossbar? Always looks better, that.

Who could not have smiled at Phil Foden’s Messi-style control, turn, surge and reverse, no-look pass for Ilkay Gundogan’s formality?

Who could not like footballing works of art?

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Hard to think of anyone, really.

But maybe, from his substitute’s seat, Raheem Sterling was not as dreamily content as most viewers.

Raheem Sterling had to make do with a role off the subs' bench
Raheem Sterling had to make do with a role off the subs’ bench

First things first, it is impossible to suggest anything remotely negative in this lovely cakewalk.

But when everyone salivates about Manchester City standards AND the remarkable depth of quality on the bench, there is one, significant long-term challenge for Pep Guardiola.

And that is keeping every one of these supremely talented players content.

Some will have a mentality to deal with the rotation but others might not.

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My guess is Sterling is in the latter group. Nothing wrong with that, at all, and when the fight is on four fronts, there will be plenty of shifts to be done.

And Sterling was quick to take to social media and laugh off suggestions of disharmony after he was an unused substitute for the 5-2 win over Southampton and then not even bussed to London for the win at Craven Cottage.

Guardiola also poured scorn on the idea of disquiet.

But when City produce passages of play such as the ones they did early in this game, a watching Sterling would be forgiven for feeling uneasy.

Unthinkable as the question sounds, does Sterling, in his current form, make Guardiola’s best eleven?

He made it for the Manchester derby and had a frustrating time.

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Kevin De Bruyne got the ball rolling on another comfortable night for City
Kevin De Bruyne got the ball rolling on another comfortable night for City

Without him, City have quickly returned to free-scoring ways.

He came on for half an hour when this tie was long settled and, of course, Sterling will be a key player in the pursuit of a quadruple.

But he is now one of the massed ranks who must patiently wait their starting turn.

And that, as much as the excellence on the field here, tells you all that is needed to know about this formidable City machine.





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