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Raheem Sterling's game will improve if he starts thinking before acting

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Ever since he burst onto the scene a few years ago, Raheem Sterling has been just as exciting as he is frustrating. The youngster has been like a firework that fails to lift off the ground, it may make a pretty sight but it's more likely to make a mess of your garden.

There is no doubting that he possesses the raw ability to be as good of a footballer he wants to be. He has incredible speed, a direct style and good ability with the ball at his feet that seems like a combination that would have any defender quaking in their boots at the sight of him.

Add to that his surprising upper body strength given his size and his versatility to play any position in the attacking third, then you know you have a potent weapon. However, he can't put that together week-in-week-out and struggles to find the consistency that will push him on to the next level.

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His first season has not been spectacular at Manchester City, 11 goals and four assists in 51 appearances was not the return they would be expecting from their £44 million investment. With the side transitioning and him certainly at the head of it, he needs to learn from that experience if he wants to win more silverware with the Citizens.

It all seems to echo another young Englishman gifted with real pace and high expectations as Theo Walcott also found it a problem to perform at a high level on a weekly basis. That is where the similarity ends as when people feel that Walcott needs to play on instinct, Sterling seems to perform better when he actually lifts his head and takes a moment to think before making a decision.

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Like an over-eager puppy that acts before he thinks, when Sterling tries to play as quickly as he can run, the game can get away from him. Too often he will gift possession to the opposition in good areas as his full throttle mentality puts him in the wrong areas and ends with him choosing the wrong option.

Often criticised for his finishing and his final ball, those comparisons to Walcott spring to mind again but much like the Arsenal man, he has shown at times that he has the composure to pick the right option. He's finished a number of one-on-one opportunities and certainly has the ability to pick out that killer pass, he just needs to give himself the time and believe in what he can create for his team.

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That fact was never clearer than during the recent England friendlies, as he failed to impress with his biggest chance against Turkey. Eager to impress, he tried to do things at 100 miles per hour but when he took a moment to slow things down a little, he would pick the right pass or the right forward move that would get the team into dangerous positions.

Then when he came on against Portugal, a drab affair was at least given a little gift as Sterling picked out Chris Smalling for the winner. The 21-year-old had a moment of space after a free-kick was cleared, he took his time to look where his teammates were and played a delightful cross into an area where goalkeepers dread to venture and a brave attacker will profit.

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Sterling will be delighted that he gets to work with a footballing messiah like Pep Guardiola next season and he will hope that the Spaniard can sprinkle some of that magic dust on him.

All the parts are there, all he needs to do is follow the instructions, listen to his brain and finally pull everything together so he can become that world-class footballer his agent claims he already is.

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Topics:
England Football
Football
Premier League
Raheem Sterling
Manchester City

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