Pep Guardiola’s strive for greatness brings the best out of Raheem Sterling

“The boy who grew up in the shadow of the Wembley arch.” A tattoo on his left forearm depicts a young Raheem Sterling wearing his favourite No. 10 shirt, holding a football and looking at the famous Wembley arch. To the Englishman, this place has always been home. It’s only fitting that Sterling bagged a brace in his first FA Cup final for Manchester City.

The FA Cup final was effectively over by the time Sterling netted his brace after David Silva opened the scoring midway through the first half, before a brace from Gabriel Jesus, who started ahead of Sergio Aguero, and a goal on the hour mark by Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne.

Nine minutes from time, Sterling got his first of the afternoon, netting from Bernardo Silva’s perfect cross before adding his second moments later. His brace brought an end to the demolition of Watford, with City achieving the biggest FA Cup final win since Bury beat Derby 6-0 in 1903.

His season just keeps getting better with the opportunity to captain England a real possibility against the Netherlands. Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate hinted the 24-year-old could be appointed captain should Harry Kane miss out: “Raheem is in that leadership group now and he has fulfilled that brilliantly over the last 12 months. He has risen to that challenge and embraced it and I wouldn’t have any hesitation in making him captain if that was the right thing.”

The Manchester City forward has 25 goals and 18 assists in 51 games in all competitions this season, crowning him PFA Young Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year while he was also named in the PFA Team of the Year alongside teammate Sergio Aguero and Liverpool’s Sadio Made.

Vincent Kompany draws an end to Manchester City career

A huge part of Sterling’s success is no doubt down to captain Vincent Kompany. Four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups in 11 years at the Etihad Stadium has seen the Belgian an integral part to not only the club, but also the city of Manchester. He epitomises the meaning of what the club stands for and what it means to be a Mancunian.

“Man City has given me everything,” his official statement on Facebook read. “I am grateful to all those who supported me on a special journey, at a very special club. I remember the first day, as clear as I see the last. I remember the boundless kindness I received from the people of Manchester. I will never forget how all Man City supporters remained loyal to me in good times and especially bad times. Against the odds you have always backed me and inspired me to never give up.”

Manchester City make history under Pep Guardiola

Their first FA Cup trophy managed by Pep Guardiola, Manchester City claimed their first Premier League and FA Cup double and the first since Chelsea in 2009/10. Their win over Watford on Saturday brought an end to City’s record treble winning season after winning the League Cup and Premier League title, pipping Liverpool to the league title.

“It was an incredible final for us and we have finished an incredible year,” said Guardiola. “To all the people at the club, a big congratulations, especially the players because they are the reason why we have won these titles.”

Premier League champions, Carabao and FA Cup holders has a nice ring to it, but it didn’t come as easy as you may think. They’re the first men’s team to complete a domestic treble and under Guardiola, they’ve won five of the last six domestic trophies. It’s quite the achievement in a season when they were pushed until the final day of the season to retain their Premier League crown.

Sometimes it is easier to win a title when you have not won it for a long time. It is more complicated to win it back-to-back after last season,” Guardiola told BBC. “This is one of the best groups of players I have trained in my life, one of the best groups of human beings I have lived with, for the fact that after getting 100 points, they want to try to win again and again.

“Last season the opponents could not stay in our rhythm, but this season we had an opponent who were always in front of us, seven points at one stage, but we were there every single day.”

And with that, Manchester City’s season ends. There’s no doubt this group of players is one of the best teams in European football and people should take time to appreciate this Manchester City side.

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