Raheem Sterling must win trophies for Man City move to be a success - boss
MANCHESTER -- Raheem Sterling must win trophies to consider his £44 million move from Liverpool a success, says Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini.
The 21-year-old, who missed training on Friday after picking up a knock in the midweek Champions League victory over Dynamo Kiev, can win the first medal of his career when he faces his former club in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley.
Sterling, who controversially turned down a new contract offer at Liverpool to move to City in July, is set to face another angry reception from Reds fans on Sunday -- and the following Wednesday when he returns to Anfield for the first time in the Premier League. But Pellegrini says his decision will be justified if the England international gets his hands on silverware this season.
The Chilean told a news conference: "If we win a couple of titles and Raheem has an important performance it will be a good season for him.
"I don't think it's good to analyse his season in this moment. He has done good things, bad things and was very important the other day [in Kiev]. He is a very young player so must improve every year. If you ask me if I'm happy to bring him here this year then yes, I am very happy. He continues to improve and give a lot of things to our squad.
"He has a lot of speed, good technique, goals -- that's why we bought him. I'm sure he can be a very successful player but it will depend on the way he improves."
Pellegrini is confident that Sterling can cope with the added pressure of facing Liverpool despite a poor performance against his old side in the Premier League on Nov. 21, when City were easily beaten 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
The Chilean added: "For every player it is never comfortable to play against an old team. Everyone has links, friends inside the club. But he is a professional player. He came here to win titles. I'm sure he will have a very good performance.
"I don't think he has anything to prove. For him that motivation is very good. I hope he will be focused just on having a good performance and not thinking about the boos he receives during the game or what happened in the past. He is now a Manchester City player and he will try to win for us."
And Pellegrini doesn't believe that defeat to Liverpool earlier in the season will have any bearing on the outcome of the final although he is expecting a tight encounter.
He said: "We are always prepared to play against any team in the Premier League or in Europe because we know a lot of things about all of them. After that it's the performance of your players and the team in the day you play that game.
"Two or three balls decide the result so its very important not to make mistakes and be accurate and have good finishing when you have the options. There are so many things that decide the result, that is why I say every match is different."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him @jonnysmiffy.