Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted there was still room for improvement from Raheem Sterling after the forward’s astonishing performance in a 6-1 destruction of Southampton that returned his team to the top of the Premier League.
The defending champions remain on course to better last season’s record-breaking tally of 106 goals after another emphatic display that leaves them with a plus-29 goal difference just 11 games into the new campaign.
Sterling was the pick of the attacking talents during Sunday’s match at the Etihad Stadium, scoring two goals and providing three assists as City raced into a 3-0 lead inside 18 minutes.
“He is a top player but still he is so young to be considered the world’s best,” said Guardiola when asked to rank Sterling among the game’s current leading players.
“He is in incredible form, he is sharp, fast, clever, fighting, decisive, he can play both sides and can play in the middle and receive the ball between the lines and commit the centre-backs with a lot of aggression.
His performance was a timely individual display after he agreed a new five-year contract with the club, worth a reported £300,000 a week.
“It was an incredible performance but still with the young guys like him and Leroy (Sane) I would feel he can improve,” added Guardiola.
“Still, he loses simple balls, like the Tottenham game when he made an amazing assist in the first few minutes but then lost a lot of balls.”
Ever the perfectionist, Guardiola still saw enough to demand improvements from his swashbuckling side.
“Of course, the way we played the first 20 minutes, yes,” said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager when asked if City’s title rivals would be frightened by the latest victory.
“But the team sent me some signals today that in some positions, some actions, we are not stable enough.
“But it is good. Improving after winning is so much easier than improving after losing!”