Sterling: I was never able to dribble under Pellegrini

The winger called everyone "two-touch kings" under the Chilean and states he has vastly more freedom under the leadership of Pep Guardiola

Raheem Sterling said he was never able to express himself under ex-Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini and thanked current boss Pep Guardiola for freeing him.

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The winger has been one of the overwhelming success stories under the Catalan so far, notching five goals and six assists in just nine appearances in all competitions so far.

Sterling had initially been written off as a flop after his first season at City following a massive transfer from Liverpool.

However, the 21-year-old has laid part of the blame at the feet of Pellegrini, stating the Chilean's style of play was too restrictive for him to reach his full potential.

"It was really difficult because I didn't feel I could play my natural game [under Pellegrini]," he told the Daily Mail.

"Everyone was two-touch kings. The whole training session was based on two touches. I wasn't able to dribble. I like to dribble and I like to have fun and take players on.

"But you can't do that with two touches. Sometimes, the way it works is that what you do in training sessions is what you do in the game. You get in a habit."

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It has been a very different picture this season, and Stering was firm in his belief that Guardiola is to credit for his vastly improved form, saying the Catalan freed him.

"Coming in this year, it's been different," he continued. "I had five minutes with Pep and he showed me on the board where he wants me to be and what he wants me to do and he said the rest was down to me.

"He said with my ability I needed to get at my defenders, try to make crosses and score and as soon as I lose the ball, get back into position.

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"Against West Ham, I scored a goal and he wasn't happy because I didn't go at my full-back as much as he wanted and I had lots of opportunities.

"It's a great challenge because he wants me to be more direct with my running and get at players because he wants me to create as many chances as he can and score goals. 

"I feel I have more freedom to express myself now. I'm not going to lie about that - I feel much more free. When I get the ball, I have the authority to be myself and try to create chances."