This season so far has seen a completely different Raheem Sterling in a Chelsea shirt.
It’s early doors of course with only three games played so far, and we all want to see a consistent Raheem Sterling as pleasing as it has been to see him firing on all cylinders so far.
There is some caution in the air on Sterling, especially from me. But I do think he has been superb in these last two games at least. And long may that continue.
So what has contributed to Sterling’s performances so far this season compared to how bad he was last season?
Well, The Times have a big article out on it this weekend and they put it down to a few things.
‘Those close to the Chelsea dressing room say that Pochettino has brought “guidance and structure” to the team, and his noted man-management skills, his honesty and empathy, seem to be bringing the best out of Sterling. He has also benefited from Pochettino’s focus on improving the players’ fitness.
‘Raheem Sterling’s revival is also down to sorting out a niggle in his hamstring and improving his recovery sessions. His improved form can also be attributed to his request to Chelsea to recommend a nutritionist, and moving to a more protein-based diet, and losing a small amount of weight, and shedding some muscle that he thought placed pressure on his hamstring. He looks leaner and quicker.
‘Sterling told Pochettino that being asked to play with his back to goal at times limited his effectiveness. It was difficult to build understanding & link-ups when constantly changing positions. Pochettino told Sterling that he wanted to see him running at defenders.
‘During a 1-on-1 meeting in Mauricio Pochettino’s office, Raheem Sterling voiced his frustration at having to play 7 positions at Chelsea last season, including as a false 9 and as a striker alongside Kai Havertz in a 4-4-2 under Thomas Tuchel.’
A very interesting takeaway from this is about his hamstring issues.
I have spoken about this and have seen others speak about this. As Sterling said, shedding some muscle in the right areas has helped his hamstring issues, and it makes sense.
Reece James is a bigger build naturally, and perhaps that is contributing to his consistent injury issues, putting more pressure on the joints and muscles? Does he train too much strength and muscle in the gym? Does he need to do less? Does he need to change his diet?
These are all things none of us truly know because we aren’t in that gym with him, we do not know his routine and none of us are experts in this department.
But to me what Sterling has done makes sense, or at least what The Times are reporting he has done. Getting more protein in his diet and not being as stacked in a muscle sense, will reduce the risk of injury.
But then is James just a naturally bigger build because it’s in his genes? The answer to that of course is yes, he is. But I’m still sure there are things that he can do alongside the club experts, physicians, medics, and nutritionists to be able to help his constant injuries. And to be honest, I have no doubt at all that they will all already be working on this together and trying to get on top of it.
As if the club and James are not going to be on top of this right now. Of course they will be. But they could certainly look at and use Sterling’s example here and what he has reportedly done, because that seems like the way forward to me. I’m sure they already are though.