Tuesday 24 September 2019

Sterling's told to quit showboating as Pep praises stability

What’s the Mata: Juan Mata makes his feelings clear to Raheem Sterling after accusing the Manchester City player of show-boating late in the game. Photo: Getty
What’s the Mata: Juan Mata makes his feelings clear to Raheem Sterling after accusing the Manchester City player of show-boating late in the game. Photo: Getty

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Pep Guardiola has told Raheem Sterling to "avoid" the showboating that angered Juan Mata at the end of Man City's derby win.

Sterling produced a long sequence of stepovers in the final seconds of City's 3-1 win, prompting United sub Mata to angrily gesture at him before the final whistle. Guardiola also went over to Sterling, giving him one of his famous on-pitch post-match talks as everyone else celebrated on the pitch.

Speaking at his post-match press conference at the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola confirmed he had told Sterling to focus on keeping the ball, and that he wants him to cut out the flamboyant showboating in future.

"The best way to defend the result is to keep the ball, it's the best way," Guardiola said, recounting his instruction to Sterling. He pointed to how second-half substitutes Leroy Sane and Phil Foden had passed the ball between themselves to hold off United instead.

"They did it, with Leroy and Phil, they did it. That situation, with two or three minutes left, they controlled it absolutely. It's not the best way defending back, because everything can happen."

Then Guardiola said he did not want to see a repeat of Sterling's stepovers.

"He made some movements with the legs, we can avoid it," he said.

"But he's young and he's going to improve."

Guardiola was impressed at how City had avoided a repeat of last year when they were 2-0 up in this fixture but conceded three goals in the second-half. Although City slipped back to 2-1 today, they controlled the game after that and ended up comfortable 3-1 winners.

"The first-half was not so good, we played like 'I don't want to lose the ball' but not with the intention to attack, or to do something," Guardiola said.

"I felt when I watched my team, that we felt the pressure. The second-half, we started much, much better. After we conceded, always it's inevitable to think about last season. But we didn't concede one other chance, we defend so well. The last 30 minutes we made a very, very good game."

That second-half stability made all the difference to Guardiola.

"After the second goal, the most satisfying (thing) is after 2-1, we react well. We are stable. We didn't concede chances. Step by step we regain our game again. And after, of course, after the third goal was easier."

Guardiola, though, is not getting carried away about the narrow gap his team have over Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.

"It is two points, four points from Chelsea, it is nothing but it is good," he added.

Irish Independent

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