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When do we start getting concerned about Raheem Sterling?

Unless your name is Lionel Messi – who is a pre-programmed droid from a world we will never know nor understand – everyone is allowed dips in form.

But we, as fans, also have a right to question why they happen and, perhaps more importantly, when they’ll stop.

About three months ago Raheem Sterling was in such jaw-dropping mood for Man City and England that you could argue no player on the planet was in better shape.


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Not surprised Pep was all over him

PA:Press Association
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Not surprised Pep was all over him

Sterling raced to 18 goals for club and country by early November, outscoring literally everyone else in Europe, while also adding nine assists. All in 19 games across all competitions.

Those are utterly obscene numbers. Obscene.

With Harry Kane doing what he does best, Marcus Rashford quietly building the best season of his life and Jadon Sancho continuing to make a mockery of the Bundesliga, England’s attack couldn’t have looked healthier.

How things have changed.

What gives, Raheem?

Reuters
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What gives, Raheem?

Kane and Rashford are out for the foreseeable future and there are question marks over Sancho’s temperament after several tardy episodes.

So that leaves Sterling; the reliable one of the lot, you’d think?

Think again.

By his recent lofty standards 2020 hasn’t got going whatsoever, and the numbers make for concerning reading.

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Hiding from his recent numbers

AFP or licensors
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Hiding from his recent numbers

The 25-year-old has failed to score or assist in five successive games now since December 27th, while he has managed just six goals in all competitions since November 6th.

Two of those came against Oxford in the League Cup while another two – his last two – came in that painful defeat at Wolves when City sacrificed a seemingly comfortable lead.

Anguish and despair have been the flavour of the decade so far for Sterling and City as their Premier League title escapes feebly through their fingertips.

His frustration was palpable as he drew another blank against Sheffield United on Tuesday night, falling to his knees after firing wide in the final moments when well placed.

Another game, another blank

AFP or licensors
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Another game, another blank

This is not a dig at his ability, which we have all witnessed in full flow, but more a question of his timing.

This is more a plea, from adoring England fans, to rediscover the Sterling we all know and love before the summer.

With Euro 2020 fast approaching and two of his main attacking assets on the sidelines, Gareth Southgate will be looking to Sterling as a reliable constant to lean on in the build up to the tournament.

Southgate will need Sterling fit and firing

Alamy Live News
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Southgate will need Sterling fit and firing

The tonic may well be the return of the Champions League next month and a chance to stick it to a club that Sterling has long admired.

Seven of his goals and assists this season came in the group stages where he ran riot at times, so a double header with Real Madrid could coax him back to his best.

As England supporters, during a tournament year where there’s genuine hope of success, we can only hope this is a minor blip rather than an ugly sign of things to come.

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This does not slip

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