Former Tottenham and England manager Glenn Hoddle believes Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling’s poor recent performances may be due to the absence of Sergio Aguero.
The 32-year-old has been mostly used as a substitute in recent matches, with manager Pep Guardiola preferring to use a false-nine, and Hoddle thinks the lack of an out and out striker may be affecting Sterling’s output:
“Maybe Sterling misses having that focal centre-forward? Sometimes he’s had a spell as that centre-forward himself. (City) have done it with De Bruyne, they’ve done it with (Phil) Foden, they’ve done it with all different types of players. “Maybe (Sterling) is one who prefers to have that focal centre-forward in there. (Sergio) Aguero has been out for so long, maybe that’s affected (Sterling) a little bit?”
There is undoubtedly a grain of truth in what Hoddle is saying. Aguero’s presence in the box did allow Sterling to ghost in at the back post and score tap-ins. On top of that, the England international provided numerous assists for his teammate.
However, with Aguero now tipped to leave the Etihad in the summer with Chelsea, Barcelona and PSG his likeliest destinations, he is no longer seen as a regular starter. With Guardiola apparently also ready to evolve his system away from needing a number-nine, it may have a lasting impact on Sterling.