Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has adviced his winger Raheem Sterling to just ignore all the inevitable boo boys at Wembley when he will step on the field looking to win his first medal with current employers against former club Liverpool.
Sterling is expected to be a part of City’s squad for Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against Liverpool. Although he didn’t took part in training with the core group on Friday as the young winger, along with defensive pair Vincent Kompany and Bacary Sagna, was recovering after an impressive 90-minute Champions League performance against Dynamo Kiev in midweek.
It will only be the second time he have to face the Reds since his acrimonious exit from Merseyside last summer, he was mostly anonymous during his first reunion when Manchester City were bulldozed 4-1 at home by Jurgen Klopp’s boys in November.
A much anticipated return to Anfield, and even more hostile reception, is waiting for Sterling on Sunday, but Pellegrini has given his player full support to knock back any Wembley heckling with the domestic season’s first silverware on the line.
The controversial circumstances through which Raheem Sterling forced his £50 million transfer to City last summer clearly dictate that he will not be allowed to forget the acrimony at Wembley.
“I think that for every player it’s not comfortable to play against their old team, everyone has friends inside the club,” the City boss said.
“But he’s a professional player, he came here to win titles. He wants to win and I’m sure that he will have a very good performance.
“I don’t think that he must prove (a point). I hope that he will be focused just on having a good performance and not thinking about the boos that he may receive during the game or about what happened in the past. He’s now a player of Manchester City.”
Sterling have to score just one single goal to equal the tally of 11 for his final season at Anfield, with the Chilean boss insisting there is plenty more to come from the 21-year-old youngster, even if Pellegrini will not be at the Etihad Stadium to see the England international’s career progress beyond this summer as he has to make way for Pep Guardiola.
The City manager also has no regrets over splashing out nearly £50million to tempt Sterling away from Liverpool and believes his first season in Manchester will be regarded a success if he manages to display a major role in delivering trophies.
“When we finish the season, if we win a couple of titles and Raheem has an important performance, it will be a good season for him,” Pellegrini further said.
“I don’t think it’s good to analyse his season in this moment. He has good things, bad things; he was a very important player the other day (against Dynamo Kiev).
“He is a very young player so he must improve every year. If you ask me if I am happy to bring him here this year – yes, for the moment I’m very happy. I think he will continue improving and giving a lot of things to our squad.”
Sterling decided to leave Liverpool after a controversial public contract dispute, during which he even gave a television interview confirming that he had apparently rejected an offer of £100,000-per- week.
Despite the Englishman’s insistence that he was actually motivated by the bright prospect of trophies rather than money, he was booed by Liverpool supporters when he collected the club’s Young Player of the Year award at the end of last term.