Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has backed Raheem Sterling to handle another hot reception at former club Liverpool on Sunday. Sterling has struggled in games back at Anfield since leaving the Reds for City in 2015.
Despite being one of City’s key players throughout last season, the England international was used only as a second-half substitute when the sides met on Merseyside in the Champions League quarter-finals in April.
But Guardiola claims that was a tactical decision and he is not shielding the 23-year-old, who he expects will learn to cope with the challenges of returning to his old stomping ground.
City travel to Anfield this weekend in an eagerly anticipated early-season clash of the Premier League’s top two sides.
Guardiola said: “The reason why last time he didn’t play was for other reasons, tactical. What I wanted to do was have Kyle Walker on the right side attacking more than him. That was the plan. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.
“I don’t think about that (crowd reaction). Even if that happens – maybe it affects him, maybe not – but being so young, he has to learn about that.
“When he has been a player for us for a long time, and hopefully it will be for a long time, sooner or later he will go many times to Anfield.
“He grew up there, he has a good memories about his period there. Of course the Liverpool fans want (him) to play bad, and he has played bad but he wants to play good. Normally I don’t do it for that reason.”