Pochettino gives verdict on new fan favourite song and criticism of Sterling performance

Mauricio Pochettino has backed Raheem Sterling to bounce back from recent criticism of his Chelsea performances – which led to him losing his place in the team.

Sterling, 29, was booed off the pitch at Stamford Bridge after being substituted in the 4-2 defeat at home to Wolves a fortnight ago.

The winger was then left out for Noni Madueke in the next two games but impacted the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace on Monday by helping set up Conor Gallagher’s crucial goal.

With Chelsea facing his former club, Manchester City, at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, Pochettino is confident that Sterling can still produce his best form.

“I think he is doing really well,” he said. “I don’t like to compare [with the past] but I think this season he’s doing really well for the team.

“The good thing, is whether he plays or he doesn’t play, he is always positive, always helping and that’s very important for an experienced player like him.”

Pochettino insisted that Cole Palmer will also show no fear in facing his former club, with the duo set for another clash with Pep Guardiola’s perennial winners. Both Sterling and Palmer scored against City in the sensational 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge in November.

Palmer in particular offered a muted celebration but Pochettino believes players should feel enabled to simply enjoy the moment.

He added: “When they scored here [at Stamford Bridge], I don’t remember if they celebrated.

“It’s football, if they don’t celebrate and want to show respect, okay, but I think… today when you score a goal, you need to celebrate, and I think you kill your former club and after you say ‘sorry’.

“You cannot stop your feelings when you play for different shirts, badges, and clubs. When you score, it’s the most beautiful feeling in your body and you cannot [say]: ‘Argh, I don’t want to celebrate’.

“I think you need to celebrate, you are now playing for another team. You show respect when you were there and you give everything to the club and the badge, and the people. But now you defend another shirt, you need to celebrate because, you know, you are part of another history.”

Chelsea supporters have lately adopted ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers as their new favourite anthem after it appeared to help the team in the second half at Crystal Palace, having been played over the PA system when the Blues were 1-0 down.

“Don’t worry about a thing”, goes the famous reggae song, which Conor Gallagher admitted he could hear while leading his team to a 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park.

Pochettino admitted he could not hear it during the game while on the other side of the pitch.

The Blues boss said: “They were happy, they were winning the game and everything was positive. After they scored, the feeling changed; it all changed.

“The feeling changes in football so quickly. To be honest, I was so focused that I didn’t hear them sing the song. But the fans made this song the anthem. Music is so important for everyone. It can change your mood, your energy, everything. But for players, you can provide better or more energy.

He added: “We used to do it in Southampton. Of course, at Tottenham [too]. At the end of each training session, we’d cheat a little bit.

“We would make them run with music. We put a big speaker in the middle of the pitch and run with all the players choosing different music.

“Okay, come on, now we suffer with music. We put on the music, and they ran and were so happy. At the moment, we still haven’t done it here, but maybe one day we will. I think music is one of the most important things in life.”


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