Disjointed Chelsea display highlights size of task for Raheem Sterling and Thomas Tuchel

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Raheem Sterling during Chelsea’s friendly draw with Charlotte  (Getty Images)
Raheem Sterling during Chelsea’s friendly draw with Charlotte (Getty Images)

Raheem Sterling made his Chelsea debut in a disjointed team display that annoyed head coach Thomas Tuchel.

The £47.5million signing from Manchester City was one of 10 outfield changes at half-time as he lined up on the left of a front three with Kai Havertz and Mason Mount.

With Mount on the right and Havertz through the middle, it was the first look at the forward line that could start the opening game of the season against Everton on August 6.

Sterling did show some good dribbles and linked well with Havertz at times but, still working on his fitness, it was hard for him to shine on a night that Tuchel was unhappy with.

“In the second half, it took us half an hour to show some quality and then it was maybe for 10 minutes, so it was not good at all,” said Tuchel after Chelsea suffered a pre-season shootout defeat in front of new co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Egbahli.

“Not offensively, not structure-wise, not in effort, hunger to be the dominant team. It was not good enough.

“I didn’t see it today. So it doesn’t matter what I have in my mind, the only thing that matters is what I see on the pitch. I saw four accelerations in the second half and they all came from Raheem.

"This is what he delivers and there is no need for major doubts or huge criticism, but it is never important what the manager has in his head before pre-season, it’s the reality that counts. Every day in training and matches like this count and from there we go.”

Sterling had a shot saved after good combination play with Havertz but it was more his ability to press and release pressure that was useful to Chelsea, who looked uncomfortable in the second half after Tuchel changed his entire team at half-time.

Chelsea went ahead through Christian Pulisic but conceded a penalty which was converted in stoppage time after a Trevoh Chalobah handball.

In pictures | Chelsea face Charlotte in pre-season

It was an underwhelming 45 minutes but this is just the start for Sterling, who played in front of Ben Chilwell in a partnership that Tuchel hopes will grow.

Sterling stepped up to score a penalty in the shootout but Conor Gallagher’s tame effort was saved and Charlotte converted five from the spot to claim victory.

Tuchel said: “In general I would say we played a good first half but unfortunately only for 80 metres of the pitch.

“The last 20 metres were not good enough, even in the first half. We found a lot of spaces to accelerate and to penetrate the box but we struggled with our decision-making and precision in the last 20 metres.

“It was simply not good enough for the effort and quality we showed in the first 80 metres of the pitch. The amount of space we had and the amount of attacks we created, there were simply not enough clear chances or deliveries in the last 20 metres.

After the game, Callum Hudson-Odoi, spoke about the early influence Sterling has had on the squad.

“He has had a big influence,” said Hudson-Odoi. “We know the player he is. A top player, we have seen what he has done for Manchester City and for England. He has done amazing.

“For myself, playing in the same position he plays, it is definitely good to look up to someone like him and see his goals and assists and the way he plays and dribbles.”

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