Raheem Sterling’s failed experiment at wing back was a PLUS for Chelsea and England and shows Potter isn’t too proud

Raheem Sterling’s failed experiment at wing back was a PLUS for Chelsea and England and shows Potter isn’t too proud

RAHEEM STERLING is not a wingback.

Many would have known that before now, but Chelsea boss Graham Potter has confirmed it to everyone.

Sterling played almost all of the first half as a right wingback
Sterling played almost all of the first half as a right wingbackCredit: Getty
Potter moved Sterling into a more attacking position shortly before the break
Potter moved Sterling into a more attacking position shortly before the breakCredit: Reuters

The England international, 27, lined up on the right side of the Blues’ five-man back line for the start of their 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

And it was evident from the off that he simply does not have the defensive capabilities to successfully play the role.

John McGinn found acres of space in behind, with Sterling often unsure whether to press or drop.

Not only was he being misused as a wide defender, his pace and quality was being missed at the other end of the pitch.

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Despite taking the lead through Mason Mount, Chelsea were struggling to stretch Villa, something Sterling is renowned for.

The plus side? Potter noticed it. And he changed it quickly.

The ex-Brighton boss has gained a reputation for being a superb coach, moulding individuals around his system of playing.

But he is clearly also willing to accept when he is wrong.

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After 40 minutes, Potter switched Ruben Loftus-Cheek to right wingback and pushed Sterling to the left side of the front three.

And it almost paid dividends instantly.

The ex-Liverpool and Manchester City star was immediately on the end of a flowing Chelsea move which resulted in him curling an effort against the crossbar.

After the break, Potter brought Cesar Azpilicueta on as he reverted to a more orthodox right wingback.

It shows the former Ostersunds boss is not afraid to admit his mistakes and own them.

And it is also a major boost for England.

Gareth Southgate will not want one of his most trusted attacking talents learning the traits of a wingback just one month out from the World Cup.

Alongside skipper Harry Kane, Sterling has been one of the Three Lions’ most trusted attacking options over the past few years – and he was arguably their best player at the Euros.

He missed a couple of chances towards the end of the Villa match as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s departure saw him lead the line for the final 30 minutes.

But his prolificness in front of goal has never been his calling card – although it is an underrated trait of his as three 20-goal seasons with Manchester City will testify to.

The pace, energy and creativity he offers going forward makes him a handful for any defence in the world.

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Potter and Southgate both know that – which is why he is one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country.

And now that this failed wingback experiment seems to be a thing of the past, England fans can look forward to the Chelsea man wreaking havoc in Qatar.

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Dylan Terry

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