Raheem Sterling labelled speculation of a rift between himself and manager Pep Guardiola as “false” in the aftermath of Manchester City’s 3-0 win at Fulham. Sterling was not part of the matchday squad for City’s trip to Craven Cottage as second-half goals from John Stones, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero – the latter from the penalty spot – kept the leaders on course for the Premier League title.
Speaking before the match on BT Sport, Guardiola said there was no injury issue for the England winger and labelled his omission as tactical.
It followed Sterling being an unused substitute for the 5-2 midweek win over Southampton and rumours emerged on Friday that the 26-year-old had been left out after confronting Guardiola about a perceived lack of recent game time.
But on Sunday, he tweeted:
Some crazy rumours on socials today… That's absolutely FALSE. Looking forward to a big week with the team. Have a good night lads 🙌🏾
— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) March 14, 2021
City are back in Champions League action against Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, holding a 2-0 aggregate advantage from the first leg of their last-16 tie. Then, on Saturday, they face Everton at Goodison Park in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – Guardiola’s EFL Cup finalists still retaining an interest in honours on four fronts.
When asked after Saturday’s game whether Sterling would feature against Gladbach, Guardiola replied: “On Sunday we will train and we will see. “Everybody wants to be involved from the beginning. Now it’s perfect as we rotate six or seven players from the beginning every game. Everyone is fit.”
“When it’s working well it’s all, ‘how brilliant we are in our decisions’. The route we are going to take is not to complain or say why we rotate or why the players didn’t play.”
“To win the Premier League and all the titles we need everyone, everyone, everyone. We do the best for the club and the best for the team. When that happens, we can compete in all competitions for the year.”
Sterling is City’s second-highest scorer this season behind Ilkay Gundogan with 13 goals in 36 appearances across all competitions. Only Rodri (39) has played more games in the City squad, with Sterling third among outfield players behind Ruben Dias and the Spain midfielder when it comes to minutes played (2,861). He has both scored (10) and missed (18) the most ‘big chances’ in the City squad and has an overall shot conversion rate of 17.6 per cent from 74 attempts on goal. Sterling also has eight assists from 43 chances created and his dribbles attempted (147) and completed (72) are the most among his team-mates.