Potter’s Sterling position change is genius as he combines with under-fire Mount for new Chelsea boss’ first goal

    RAHEEM STERLING played in an unfamiliar new position in Graham Potter’s first game – but took to it like a duck to water.

    And Chelsea fans hailed their magical new manager as his shake-up led to immediate success with the first goal of his era.

    Raheem Sterling scored the first goal of the Graham Potter era

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    Raheem Sterling scored the first goal of the Graham Potter eraCredit: Reuters

    Sterling, 27, started at left wing-back in the Blues’ Champions League 1-1 draw at home to Red Bull Salzburg.

    The Three Lions star has traditionally played as an attacking winger and even as a central striker at times under Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel.

    But Potter had other ideas.

    Like Leandro Trossard at Brighton, he deployed Sterling on the left of a back five with Reece James on the opposite flank and Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Marc Cucurella central.

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    It was certainly a fluid system with Sterling not tasked with too much defensive work as Cucurella moved across into his regular left-back role, allowing Sterling to push on and join the attacks – often even the furthest man forward.

    Despite the inexperience as a wing-back, Sterling thrived and was arguably Chelsea’s best player in the first half.

    And it got even better just three minutes after the break as Sterling collected the ball from under-fire Mason Mount’s cross.

    He set himself with his first touch and then curled perfectly into the bottom corner to score the first goal of the Potter era – and did so under the watchful eye of England gaffer Gareth Southgate sat in the stands.

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    Sterling was named man of the match by BT Sport and said: “We played some good football at times. Under a new manager, we will get better and keep progressing.

    “I was playing in a slightly different role. Graham said play out wide so in time I will get better.

    “I’m happy to play along the front line. He wanted me out wide running at the full-back.

    Meanwhile fans were quick to heap praise on the versatile £47million summer signing and Potter.

    One fan tweeted: “Great goal by a great wing-back.”

    Another wrote: “Sterling fits this system well.”

    A third added: “Raheem Trossard – Potter magic working already.”

    And a final wrote when the line-ups were announced: “Sterling left wing-back is funny. Potter is either a genius or stupid but time will tell.”

    And if there was still any doubt, Sterling went on to win the BT Sport Man of the Match prize to silence any critics… for now.

    Sterling thrived in his new position as a left wing-back

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    Sterling thrived in his new position as a left wing-backCredit: PA
    He curled beautifully into the far corner to break the deadlock

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    He curled beautifully into the far corner to break the deadlockCredit: Reuters

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