Pep Guardiola has played down talk of a rift with Raheem Sterling, with the Manchester City manager insisting it is normal for players to be unhappy when they are not in the team.
Sterling was a surprise absentee from City’s matchday squad for the win over Fulham at the weekend, having been an unused substitute for the 5-2 victory against Southampton three days earlier.
The England international has travelled with the squad for the Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach in Budapest on Tuesday, and Guardiola says there are no issues between him and the player.
“He travels with the team,” Guardiola said on Sky Sports when asked if there were any issues with Sterling. “All the squad travels to Budapest for the Champions League.
“Always Raheem and all the players react really well.”
When pressed on whether the forward was unhappy about being left out against Fulham, Guardiola said: “I do not expect they are happy, the guys who do not play and who are not selected, so it is normal. That has always happened since football was created.
“Raheem in this case is so important for the team and for all of us.
“All the players respect my decisions.
“I never found in my career in 40 years one player who was happy when they are not playing, never, ever. But they react really well and behave very well.”
Sterling has made 36 appearances across all competitions for City this term, with 14 goals to his name.
He had a run of five goals in six games through January and February, but went three matches without finding the target before missing out against the Saints and Fulham.
Sterling’s form has been a notch below what he produced in the previous two seasons, and Guardiola is spoilt for choice on the attacking front.
With Riyad Mahrez in sizzling form and the emergence of Phil Foden, competition has increased this term.
Bernardo was sensational two seasons ago, but he has struggled for regular minutes this term and is in a similar situation to Sterling.
With City still fighting on four fronts, there will be opportunities in the weeks ahead for Sterling and the team’s other attacking superstars.
Source : goal.com