Raheem Sterling: Man City forward 'critical' despite best season yet

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Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling says he is always critical of his performances, despite enjoying the most productive season of his career.

Sterling is City’s joint-top scorer with Sergio Aguero this season having netted 13 times in all competitions.

That is more goals than in any complete campaign in his career to date.

“I am always analysing myself, I am always critical of myself and always trying to improve,” the 23-year-old told Garth Crooks on Football Focus.

“I have been thinking about [how good I can be] since I was 17. Something good happens or something bad, I think ‘what can I do better, what didn’t I do this year’.

“I try to get better in every aspect of my life, not just on the football field. I am competitive and I just want to always get better.”

Raheem Sterling

Sterling has registered a goal or assist every 93 minutes in the Premier League this season with his nine goals in the competition only bettered by team-mate Aguero (10), Tottenham striker Harry Kane (12) and Liverpool forward Mo Salah (13).

He has already equalled his most prolific season in the top-flight, having scored nine times in for Liverpool in 2013-14.

The England international says goals are ultimately what he will be judged on.

“I’m trying to make the box, trying to be more ruthless, more clinical and trying to decide games,” he said. “As a person I like to challenge myself and say ‘I need to get better at this’.

“That’s exactly what I am trying to do – trying to get as much as I can out of the training pitch, the people around me, the fantastic facilities, and trying to improve every day.”

Asked where he has improved this season, Sterling added: “[I’m] mature, more focused and as a person I think I am really strong minded.

“I always have belief in myself, I always think I can go on and do better and that’s exactly what I am trying to do this year.”

‘City buying into Pep blueprint’

Pep Guardiola

Manchester City top the Premier League table by 11 points and are the first English top flight side to win 15 consecutive league games.

They finished third in manager Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge last year, but Sterling says the Spaniard has now had time to get the best out of his City side.

“When he first came in he said ‘I’m an intense sort of coach’, trying to get the best out of his players,” said Sterling. “He tries to get the best out of you, no matter who we play, no matter what opposition or competition, his preparation is always the same.

“Whether it’s a team at the top of the league or a team at the bottom of the league, it’s always the same focus – he doesn’t want us to get complacent, have that slight turn off, he wants us to always be ready, always be focused.

“His standards are really high, he always wants to win, he always tries to give you the best chance to win and that winning mentality has rubbed off on the players.”

Sterling says former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola has instilled “belief” in the City dressing room.

“The manager has set a plan, for each game he sets his ideas, he gives us a blueprint and you can see everyone buying into it,” he added.

“There’s a togetherness in the team and we all try to fight for each other, but at the same time we try to play some awesome football that the manager helps us to do.”

So, with nearest rivals Manchester United 11 points adrift after 17 games, is the title City’s to lose?

“If we win all our games we win the title,” added Sterling. “So if you put it that way, it’s ours to lose. But it’s still only December and we’ve got great opponents in this league.

“United are not going to rest for one moment, they are going to be doing everything they can to try and catch us and hope that we slip.”

Raheem Sterling

‘Kane and Alli are ruthless’

Tottenham visit Etihad Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 17:30 GMT, looking to stop City making it 16 successive wins in the Premier League.

Sterling says he is wary of the threat of England team-mates Harry Kane and Dele Alli, as well as forward Son Heung-min for fourth-placed Spurs.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s side have only won once in 17 away games against last season’s top six, drawing at Etihad Stadium last season having beaten City 2-0 at home.

“They are a great team. In their game against Real Madrid they were fantastic and they really turn up in big games,” said Sterling, referencing Spurs’ 3-1 Champions League win over Real Madrid at Wembley.

“Last season when we played them at White Hart Lane they were fantastic – aggressive, strong, dominant. They play good football and have players that can score goals.

“Harry, Dele that I play with, they are ruthless and also Son – these are massive players that they have, so it will be a massive game.”

Watch the full interview on Football Focus from 12:00 GMT on Saturday.

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