Former England coach Glenn Hoddle says Raheem Sterling’s form struggles this season with Manchester City this season could be due to the current system employed by manager Pep Guardiola.
Victory at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night again saw Raheem Sterling start from the bench for Manchester City.
The England international would eventually enter the action for the final minutes as City won 2-1 to reach the Champions League semifinals 4-2 on aggregate. But in terms of this season, it was a typical evening for Sterling, who has lost his first-choice status as City have forged ahead in their push for an unprecedented Quadruple.
For Hoddle, Sterling’s battle to earn a regular start could be influenced by Guardiola’s preference of playing with a false nine this season. The Tottenham great believes Sterling’s game benefits when he has a centre-forward to work off – as he does with England and Tottenham striker Harry Kane.
Hoddle said on his podcast ‘ The Glenn Hoddle Footy Show’: “Maybe Sterling misses having that focal centre-forward. I don’t know…
“He’s had a spell there in the false centre-forward role as the players have rotated. (Kevin) De Bruyne has been there as they have also done it with Phil Foden and all different types, including Sterling himself.
“Maybe he’s one who needs that focal centre-forward in there and Aguero has been out for so long that it’s affected his game a little bit.”
However, Hoddle says any criticism of Sterling is undeserved, insisting the attacker’s consistency during his time with City should force his critics to cut him some slack.
He continued, “But hey, he’s been very consistent over season after season. It’s impossible to keep churning performances out, time after time. He’s just hitting a bit of a blip. But I’m sure he’ll come good again.
“He’s not been playing bad, don’t get me wrong. He just hasn’t affected the game as he has done. He’s set a standard so high… sometimes it’s tough to keep that Standard.”