"I don't understand": Ex-Chelsea defender left confused by Graham Potter's tactics

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter gestures on the touchline during Chelsea 1-1 Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League on 14 September, 2022 at Stamford Bridge, London, United Kingdom
(Image credit: Vincent Mignott/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Former Chelsea (opens in new tab) centre-back William Gallas has expressed his confusion over Graham Potter's tactics.

Potter replaced the sacked Thomas Tuchel in the Stamford Bridge dugout and took charge of his first game earlier this month, overseeing a 1-1 draw at home to Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League.

And the 47-year-old made two particularly intriguing tactical decisions, deploying Raheem Sterling at left wing-back and Marc Cucurella as the left-sided centre-half in a back three.

Chelsea's Raheem Sterling during Chelsea 1-1 Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League on 14 September, 2022 at Stamford Bridge, London, United Kingdom

Sterling found himself in an unfamiliar wing-back role for Potter's first match as Chelsea head coach (Image credit: Vincent Mignott/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Those choices baffled Gallas, as he explained in an interview with Genting Casino (via the Daily Star). The former France international – a member of Chelsea's first two Premier League title-winning teams – said (opens in new tab):

"It's difficult for me to understand why he wants to experiment with something like this, especially in a Champions League game.

"You are playing at home and you put Cucurella as a centre-back (you have Fofana on the bench with Koulibaly, Chalobah on the bench...), and you put Sterling as a left wing-back? I don't understand."

Close-up of William Gallas

Gallas made 225 appearances for Chelsea between 2001 and 2006 (Image credit: Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The switch from centre-forward to wing-back didn't seem to affect Sterling too much:  Chelsea's £47.5m summer arrival from Manchester City (opens in new tab) scored the game's opening goal.

That said, it remains to be seen how Potter will use him and Cucurella – who he coached at Brighton (opens in new tab) – in Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace (opens in new tab), his first Premier League match as Blues boss. 

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