“Can’t defend him anymore,” “Needs to go”

Chelsea fans have called on their club to sell forward Raheem Sterling after another sub-par display in pre-season.

The Blues took on Borussia Dortmund in their final friendly fixture prior to the start of the 2023-24 Premier League season. They played out a 1-1 draw at the Soldier Field in Chicago. Marius Wolf scored for the Germans, while Mason Burstow netted an 89th-minute leveler for Chelsea.

Sterling started the match on the right wing. He completed 19 of his 25 passes and won two fouls, but lost possession 14 times, played no key passes and committed two fouls. The Englishman won only four of his 12 duels and completed just one of his five dribble attempts before being replaced by Lewis Hall in the 81st minute.

It meant Sterling ended Chelsea’s pre-season with a solitary assist in five friendly matches, failing to make consistent meaningful contributions in the final third. His display against Dortmund seemed to be the final straw for some fans, who lashed out at him on Twitter.

One fan tweeted:

“Sterling is horrid man”

Another wrote:

“Can’t defend him anymore (sic)”

A third user tweeted:

“Needs to go”

Here are some more reactions:

Sterling’s poor pre-season follows a difficult debut campaign with Chelsea after arriving from Manchester City on a fee worth £47.5 million last summer. The winger, 28, scored just six Premier League goals in 28 appearances and nine in 38 matches across competitions.

Those figures were a far cry from his time at City, with Sterling scoring more than 15 goals in all competitions in four of his last five seasons with Pep Guardiola’s side.

“We are confident that we can get the best from him” – Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino on Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling evidently struggled for continuity last season, with the Blues going through four managers in what was a tumultous campaign. This was a massive change from Manchester City, where he played under the same boss in Pep Guardiola from 2016 to 2022.

Chelsea have appointed yet another manager ahead of the 2023-24 campaign in former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine tactician, in an interview last month, stated that he and his staff will work to bring the best out of Sterling.

Pochettino said (as quoted by the BBC):

“I think he’s an important player for us. He’s in our plan. He can provide to the team many different things. We are confident that we can get the best from him to help the team to achieve what we want.”

As one of the more experienced members in the team, Sterling could play a crucial role as Chelsea aim to return to Europe after ending last season 12th in the Premier League. Pochettino’s first official assignment will be their league opener against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on August 13.

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