Daniel Sturridge, once hailed as one of England’s top striking prospects, has recently found himself quite a divisive figure. Plagued with injuries and a sudden lack of form, both his passion for the game and his fitness have been brought into question by most armchair pundits. Lately it does seem more and more that his time at Anfield is coming abruptly to an end. Jürgen Klopp’s preference of hard working strikers who defend from the front doesn’t exactly fit well with Sturridge’s good old fashioned finisher approach.
Sturridge’s injury problems are common knowledge at this point and having been out for well over half his Liverpool career due to injury you do have to wonder, why keep him? A player who will spend more time on the treatment table than on the pitch. A player who hasn’t scored in the league yet this season, albeit he has been demoted to the bench. Taking this into account Liverpool may not find themselves asking “Why keep him?”, rather than, “Who’ll take him?”. Add to this, how much could you have the barefaced cheek to ask a team to fork out for a player who, probably won’t pass the medical and almost certainly will not complete a full season for you.
With Klopp increasingly looking to play Firmino in a false nine role or alternatively opting for the more hardworking Divok Origi, it’s looking ominous. With the emerging figure of Danny Ings on the horizon, a player who will chase defenders and will put in the work Klopp’s system thrives upon, a good season from him could see Sturridge at the bottom of the pile.
At only twenty-seven Sturridge should be hitting his peak. Considering the form he kicked off his Liverpool career with, he should be the first name on the team sheet and while I do have some sympathy for his situation with injuries, you do have to question his drive. Many times his passion to actually be on the pitch has been called out. He has been slated several time in the media after some leech in the bushes with a Fujifilm disposable camera snaps a picture of him having fun. God fucking forbid! Why isn’t he sitting in a corner crying into a replica Suarez jersey wondering why he left him?
While a lot of this coverage is over the top there is something in it that seems to strike the right note. Klopp likes a player to show he wants to be in the team. To push himself if he’s been left out and to show that he deserves his place. Hard work in short. This seems to be Sturridge’s downfall, he doesn’t close down players, he doesn’t hassle defenders or chase lost causes in fact, he doesn’t do much running at all. Sitting on the bench sulking when Origi is brought on ahead of him and acting like someone came into his house on Christmas and pissed on his kids when substituted after an ineffective performance won’t prove anything to any manager.
However, despite this, are we being a bit premature? What if we’re reading too much into this? I can’t help but feel we are. At the beginning of this season, after a difficult one last year, we were told his injuries were behind him. Although this is hard to believe, maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt. What if the reason he’s on the bench is because of his current form rather than some grander conspiracy? Maybe Klopp is sticking with the system that’s currently getting results? As we all know form is temporary especially for finishers like Sturridge on his day. Maybe just maybe we shouldn’t accept everything spouted out by the bloodsucking, drama driven media to fill pages and screens just to keep us tuned in. Maybe it’s our own fault as we sit here drooling over the next Jersey Shore style conflict to be printed all over Sky Sports and that other soiled pamphlet of a newspaper (you know the one). Maybe there’s nothing going on and this is just a case of common sense from a manager.
Or maybe not, who knows?
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