Petition for Premier League safe standing at grounds gathering support
LONDON -- Manchester City showed their character by bouncing from a disappointing week with a victory at Tottenham, according to Raheem Sterling.
Pep Guardiola's side endured a disappointing stretch of games when they were dumped out of the Champions League by Liverpool and missed the opportunity to claim the Premier League title against United in the Manchester derby.
While City were always still expected to go and win the crown because of the huge advantage they had built up throughout the season, Sterling produced a perfect response with an impressive 3-1 win at Wembley.
"It's a great bounce back especially after the last two disappointing results," the England international told reporters. "The boys have done well -- Spurs put us under a lot of pressure and we just had to make sure we didn't lose the game like we did the last three consecutive games.
"It was a great hand-up from the boys, and a great win. You are playing good teams, not teams from lower leagues."
City have faced some criticism after the run of three defeats particularly after they let leads slip in home defeats to United and Liverpool.
Sterling has 22 goals this season -- double his best previous tally -- but came under fire after missing two good chances against United.
The 23-year-old, who scored the third against Spurs, says he has to take the criticism on the chin.
"These are big teams with big players and if you don't finish the game off these teams can punish you, and that's exactly what has happened," he said.
"The last couple of weeks we've had chances -- I've had chances -- and made mistakes as well, and big teams will punish you.
"The most important thing for me is that I'm getting into positions. I'm making the breaks and getting into areas where I can get on the end of stuff.
"Then it's down to me to put it away. Slowly but surely I'm getting the numbers up and keep going, and building next year.
"It's about simplicity -- keeping it simple, moving the ball well and taking touches when I need to rather than unnecessary ones.
"[Criticism] is what you get at this level. You have a high-profile manager and world-class players in a world-class team.
"With big players that have done it at high levels, that's what you will get when not producing at a high level.
"We know that pressure comes with it, and that criticism comes with it, but we know what we have as a team and what we can do.
"We were unlucky with a few decisions in the last few games but that's how it goes in football -- that's why we love it."
City just need three points to claim the title and will look to clinch it with a win at home to Swansea City next Sunday.
However they could be handed the title earlier if United lose to West Brom on Sunday or Bournemouth on Wednesday.
"I have a day off so I'll probably be on my sofa chilling and watching the [United] game," Sterling said.
"Hopefully [West Brom] can help us, but if they can't we have the game at our place at the weekend to try to win again.
"It's my first Premier League and I'll take it anyway it comes -- I'll tell you that for free.
"I came here to try to win the Premier League every year. The last few years we weren't successful but we kept building and are now getting to a level where we're playing some great football and hopefully can build on this."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.
A petition calling for the return of standing in Premier League games is gaining ground and could force MPs to consider a parliamentary debate on the matter.
The call for safe standing, posted on the Parliament official website, has reached over 50,000 signatures, three days after UK Sports Minister Tracey Crouch claimed only a "vocal minority" wanted them.
"Safe standing offers a much safer alternative to fans who wish to stand, rather than sit at football matches," the petition reads.
"After the highly successful introduction to rail seating at Celtic Park, as well as numerous Bundesliga clubs, many football fans feel that laws preventing standing areas should be relaxed."
The petition requires 100,00 signatures for the proposition to be considered for debate in Parliament.
Crouch sparked controversy on Wednesday after she rejected an application by West Bromwich Albion to pilot safe standing in one section of The Hawthorns.
Jon Darch, leader of the campaign for safe standing areas in the English game, criticised the decision.
"Her actions and out-of-touch comments have roused fans into a response and the 50,000-plus who have now signed the Government petition calling for clubs to be allowed to introduce safe standing show just how strong the feeling is," Darch told the Sunday Telegraph.
"It looks well set to secure 100,000 signatures and thus to have the matter considered for a parliamentary debate.