Pep Guardiola hailed Raheem Sterling’s clinical second half display in City’s 3-1 win over Watford, but asserted the forward has the potential to improve even further.
Sterling bagged a stunning 13-minute hat-trick to sting the Hornets, extending the Blues’ lead atop the Premier League table to four points – if only for 24 hours.
The forward opened the scoring with a highly controversial strike a minute after the restart, as Daryl Janmaat’s attempted clearance ricocheted in off the England winger, who had looked to be in an offside position.
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After some deliberation with the linesman, referee Paul Tierney awarded the goal, opening the floodgates for City to then sail into a quickfire three-goal lead.
Guardiola admitted he did not fully understand the decision but asserted luck was not the catalyst for City’s sixth successive league victory.
“We made an incredible performance,” he told press. “It was almost impossible to attack when the opposition play so deep – there were no spaces.
“Most of the games we play are like this – difficult because the opposition are so organised. The opponent came here and defended with 11 players in the box. We spoke at half-time to make more attacking movements and we did it.
“It was so difficult but we created enough chances and after the first goal, it was easier.
“The first goal will be debated. I don’t like this situation but it is what it is. I’m sorry if it was offside but we deserved to win.
“Next season, hopefully, we will have VAR and it will be clear, and nothing will happen.
“Manchester City voted to help the referees but many Clubs didn’t want it. There are other games with offsides, goals conceded and penalties awarded for diving. That’s why VAR will help the referees a bit better.
“I need help from my staff and they need help.
“Today was not luck. We were much better than the opponent. We created a lot and that’s why we deserved this victory.
“The second goal came soon after the first goal, which made things easier. Even when Troy Deeney came on, winning all the duels, and Watford had chances, we also had two or three more chances to win.”
On Sterling, who bagged the 150th Premier League goal of Guardiola’s reign with his second of the game, the managed admitted: “He can do better. The three goals were fantastic but he can do better.
“He didn’t help us a lot defensively in the first half and he gave the ball away.
“There are so many people working so hard to maintain their level.
“What we have achieved this season and last season is because we deserved it.
“There are nine games left and every game is important. We were waiting for a few months to be top and now, we are top. We try to win every game.
“We have a final on Tuesday in the Champions League; then the FA Cup and then the international break.
“On Sunday, we will see the Schalke game but we will battle until the end with Liverpool.
“I guess we are going to drop points from now until the end of the season with he schedule. It’s impossible (not to) with the amount of games we have in all competitions, if we go through.
“We have to be calm and prepared.”