Pep Guardiola has pledged to help Raheem Sterling and Joe Hart turn their careers around at Manchester City after their much-derided performances during the European Championship. Sterling endured an injury-hit first season at the Etihad Stadium before becoming a magnet for criticism amid England's disastrous campaign at Euro 2016.
Such was the abuse Sterling was subject to from his own supporters in France, a JustGiving page was created to fund his withdrawal from the squad. Sky Sports later reported that many of the Three Lions squad questioned the judgement of then manager Roy Hodgson for continually selecting the 21-year-old.
Sterling moved to City from Liverpool last July for £49m ($63.5m), according to ESPN. He scored 11 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions and ended the season out of first team under Manuel Pellegrini.
Goalkeeper Hart is another whose City career is uncertain after an error-strewn Euro 2016 campaign. He was at fault for goals from Wales' Gareth Bale and Iceland's Kolbeinn Sigborsson – the latter sending England spiralling out of the tournament. Guardiola, however, is ready to help both players and eager for the chance to work with English players.
"When you lose it is not the best," the City boss told reporters at his first media appearance since being appointed. "I know from the last week or 10 days what happened with Sterling. Of course he has a little bit of a problem with the money they paid for him and this is in thinking of the people. I am encouraged. I am expecting and looking forward to working with him to try and help him to show how good a player he it is. Not just Sterling but Joe Hart and the other English players.
"In Barcelona there was a basis of Spanish and Catalan players, in Bayern Munich it was German; I look forward to working with English players here. They are so expensive here, more than the other players around the world. It is not easy, but is not just about Joe or Raheem; I will try to help everyone."
Guardiola has made two summer signings of so far significance this summer, luring Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund and Spanish forward Nolito from Celtic Vigo. Barcelona's Lionel Messi has been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium since receiving a 21-month suspended prison sentence, and though Guardiola did not mention specific names, he indicated that City's business has not finished.
"I think all the clubs in the world try to make their squad the best as possible," he added. "Here is maybe not the right place to explain about the new players, to show respect for the players of other clubs. But I realise how good the journalists and the media are and they will want to discover who are our targets and who we want to sign for the next season. Of course we want to move a little bit, and we are going to try."