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Manchester City

Sterling hailed as 30-goal forward by Wright-Phillips and ‘a boss’ for handling of racist abuse

15:36 BST 22/08/2019
Raheem Sterling Manchester City 2019-20
The former Manchester City winger has saluted a current star occupying that post, while claiming the Blues now strike “fear” into opponents

Raheem Sterling is capable of hitting 30 goals for Manchester City this season, says Shaun Wright-Phillips, while the England international has been praised for his handling of racist abuse.

The 24-year-old has burst out of the blocks in 2019-20, finding the target five times in three appearances – including a hat-trick in an opening day win over West Ham.

A new personal best 25 efforts were recorded last season, to sit alongside the assists he provides, and the intention is to raise that bar even further.

Wright-Phillips believes Sterling is capable, telling City’s official website: “He’s outstanding.

“He’s a delight to watch, always plays with a smile on his face and does what City fans love – works hard, fights for the club and under Pep he’s grown so much. 

“People always talk about his end product and now you just expect him to have 15 assists a season. 

“It’s looking like he could hit 30 goals this season and I hope he does.”

While winning plenty of praise for his efforts on the field, Sterling has also won admirers for the way he has set about fighting the ongoing issue of racism in football.

He was targeted by a group of supporters during a visit to Chelsea in December 2018, but has seen several high-profile figures suffer similar abuse before and since.

“Raheem handled it like a boss,” Wright-Phillips said.

“Obviously now there’s a bigger platform to speak out so he could get his message and point across to a lot more people whereas when it happened to me social media wasn’t that powerful. 

“The way I dealt with it was to laugh at it and say: ‘How old are you?’ We’re in a different time now and football is multicultural.

“It’s horrible to see it still in the game, especially for kids growing up now. That’s why the way Raheem dealt with it is powerful because kids follow him and will know it isn’t acceptable.

“So many people have always been on his back and I’ve never understood why. He’s a family man and you never hear about him messing around. Although his image is outstanding now, I never thought it was bad in the first place.”

Sterling’s focus at present is on helping City to more major silverware, with last season’s domestic treble winners having already defended their Community Shield crown in 2019.

Pep Guardiola’s side are considered by many to be the team to beat at home and abroad this term and Wright-Phillips is impressed by the progress his former side have made in a short space of time.

A Blues academy graduate said: “I didn’t think it would happen this quickly.

“What the club have built has been fast in terms of dominating the country, and to a point Europe, even though we fell at a late hurdle last season. 

“People now fear Manchester City and that doesn’t normally happen this quickly.”