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Sterling challenged to shut up the Liverpool boo-boys by boss Guardiola

Date Posted,December 30, 2016

Pep Guardiola has told Raheem Sterling to show he has the mental strength to silence the Anfield hate mob.

Sterling is certain to face a hostile reception in the New Year’s Eve showpiece from Liverpool fans who have never forgiven him for forcing through a £44million move to Manchester City in 2015.

The England winger endured a miserable return to the Kop last season, hauled off at half-time in a 3-0 defeat after allowing the abuse to get to him.

But new Blues boss Guardiola has told Sterling he must learn to handle such stick and backed the “fighter” to have the last laugh on his tormentors.

“It’s always difficult when the crowd isn’t on your side, when they whistle,” he said of the 22-year-old. “It’s not easy. But it’s part of his growth and important to become a better player.

City lost heavily at Anfield last season and subbed Sterling off after 45 minutes (Photo: Liverpool FC via Getty)

“We’re going to try and handle the situation. But obviously he must focus on what he has to do himself – that’s the only way he can handle it.

“In the first part of the season he was our key player up front. Then, one month ago, he was a little bit down, he wasn’t aggressive like he was then. In the last two or three games he came back and we need that.

“He’s a fighter. In the last two games, he was decisive — the goal against Arsenal, and the penalty against Hull when the game was tough.

“We cannot forget he’s so, so young. Of course, all the players need a process to get better, but we’re so happy with what he’s done.”

Manchester City's English midfielder Raheem Sterling (2nd L) shoots through players to score their second goal
England international Sterling has been a key man for the Blues again after a blip (Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty)

City have won just once at Anfield in 35 years, their last triumph coming in 2003, with Guardiola determined to end that miserable run.

“That shows how difficult it is for Manchester City to go there,” said Guardiola. “We’re going to try and change that statistic. It’s always difficult there. But it’s not just tough for Manchester City, but for all the teams.”

City welcome back striker Sergio Aguero from a four-match ban.

Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring their first goal
The visitors have goal-machine Aguero available following suspension (Photo: Getty)

Guardiola said: “We did quite well without him – except against Leicester. We’ve had quite good results without him, but he’s important for us.

“Can you imagine other Premier League teams without their best striker for all those games? It would be tough for them like it was tough for us.

“But we’re there, one point behind Liverpool.”

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