Why did Mauricio Pochettino back Raheem Sterling in his effort to refute Gareth Southgate?
After the Chelsea forward spurred his team to a 4-1 comeback victory against Burnley, Mauricio Pochettino thinks Raheem Sterling can show Gareth Southgate was wrong to leave him out of another England selection.
Days after Southgate omitted him from the side for the upcoming international matches, Sterling took his resentment out on his former Manchester City teammate Vincent Kompany and Burnley, contributing to all four of Chelsea’s goals and scoring one of them.
Sterling hasn’t played for England since the World Cup last year, and while his absence in March was due to injury and he requested a play-off in June so he could focus on getting fully recovered, Southgate has now decided to leave him out of the final two teams.
But at Turf Moor, he demonstrated what England is lacking by being the one to break apart Burnley after the Clarets had gotten off to an unexpected start thanks to youngster Wilson Odobert.
Ameen Al Dakhil’s deflection on a cross from Sterling allowed for the equalizer, and he later won a penalty that Cole Palmer converted to score his first Chelsea goal early in the second half. After scoring his own goal in the 65th minute, Sterling assisted Nicolas Jackson in scoring the fourth goal.
“I think a player with his experience knows he needs to perform and to show the manager of the national team he was wrong in his decision,” Pochettino added. “He will only demonstrate that he deserved to be let go by performing well and scoring goals.”
Pochettino was eager to praise the team’s entire performance as Chelsea made it back-to-back league victories for the first time since March, scoring four or more goals for the first time since smashing Southampton 6-0 in April 2022, despite Sterling stealing the show.
“It was a fantastic performance, they deserved it, and I’m happy for them to go into the national break with a different feeling,” Pochettino added.
“We must maintain consistency. We have strong competitors and a very brilliant team, but for various reasons, we are now unable to fully utilize the team’s potential. But I believe that with time, we will reach our desired state.
“With every player healthy, there will be fierce competition, which will be good for the team to maintain the level needed to compete for big things.”
Burnley’s concerns are distinct. They have now tied Manchester United (1930–31), Portsmouth (2009–10), Bolton Wanderers (2011–12), and Newcastle United (2018–19) for the most consecutive home losses to begin a top-flight season.
Only Newcastle managed to avoid relegation in the other four teams’ respective seasons.
“Last season, we had the best defense in the league and a very strong defensive foundation, but it’s a different level now and everyone has to level up,” Kompany said.
“I wish there was a magic wand to solve everything, but learning the fundamentals requires a lot of practice. We’ve done it successfully in games, but it’s been with spells, which is our own fault and something we need to improve.
It’s quite challenging playing against teams like them. We need to take chances and a little bit of luck…The issue has been the varying skill levels of the players, not the performances. I’ve personally played with a few of them, therefore I am aware of the damage they can cause to teams.
When questioned about Sterling, with whom he played on two championship-winning City teams, Kompany could only puff out his cheeks.