Sturridge – Keep or Sell?

As ever it has been a chaotic summer transfer window for Liverpool this year. As expected, Jürgen Klopp is putting his stamp on the squad and as a result we are seeing many ins and outs at Melwood.

The busy summer has seen us bring in a lovely looking goalkeeper, a second goal keeper old enough to be the first goal keeper’s father and our obligatory one signing from Southampton to name a few. Whilst Klopp rings the changes one name we aren’t seeing a lot of is Daniel Sturridge. Last season it was widely discussed on social media and by the pundits as to whether Sturridge was a part of Klopp’s plans long term.

The general consensus was that he wasn’t. The general consensus was that he doesn’t press as well as the likes of Divock Origi and Danny Ings will, and that is probably true. The rumours were fuelled by Klopp leaving Sturridge on the bench when Divock Origi was firing last term, eventually bringing Sturridge into the side as Origi’s season was ended in the derby in April following an ankle injury.

Yet amongst the chaos of a usual Liverpool summer transfer window we are over half way into the window and there has been no talk of Sturridge leaving Liverpool. Sturridge is with the players in America and has taken to social media, saying that he is “Taking them steps and building the blocks to be in the best shape for the 16/17 season”. It seems as if Sturridge will be here next season and fighting for that central role with Divock Origi who emerged later on last season as a real threat to sides.

In my time following Liverpool, not many players have sparked up as much of a debate as Daniel Sturridge. Two words come to mind when I think of Sturridge, goals and frustration.

Everyone knows what Sturridge brings when available. Goals. He scores goals. He makes goals look easy. With his derby goal last year in the exhibition match against *them*, he became the fourth quickest Liverpool player post-war to get to the 50 goals mark. We’ve had a few decent forwards as well, y’know. His current goal record stands at 54 goals in 74 games for Liverpool. That’s a goal every 1.3 games. In perspective, Luis Suarez averaged a goal every 1.5 games and Fernando Torres averaged a goal every 1.6 games for the Reds.

Despite not only matching up to past Liverpool talisman’s records but surpassing them, Sturridge has never even come close to feeling the love Suarez or Torres received when at Anfield. When at the game, I’ve often heard shouts of ‘lazy’ or ‘he’s not bothered’. I think an accumulation of both his apprehension to go flat out when returning from injuries and his ice cool goal celebrations have given some supporters the impression he doesn’t care.

Whilst he doesn’t run his blood to water like Luis Suarez or kiss the badge like Fernando Torres (that ended well), I’ve never bought the idea that the lad isn’t bothered. You don’t shed a tear after a final defeat if your heart isn’t in it. You don’t run off waving your arms in the air like a mad man after a semi-final goal if you’re not interested.

Jürgen Klopp made clear to the press after the Georginio Wijnaldum signing that we are after goals. Wijnaldum and Sadio Mané were both two of the highest scoring midfielders in the league last year with 11 each. When fit, Sturridge gives you goals. Klopp knows this. Some players are worth taking a risk on and his goal record tells you that he is one of them. Hopefully a Klopp pre-season of triple sessions and gym-work will keep him fit and give us the goals we deserve and Sturridge the love he probably deserves.

Personally at the minute I’m leaning towards keeping him. In truth I’ve been undecided for a while now. It’s such an issue as he’s so good when he’s fit which makes it all the more frustrating when he is fit. I think the emergence of Origi last year has taken the pressure off him in a sense and if Sturridge misses much of next term (fingers crossed) we won’t go to pot. Personally I think he’s worth another year under a Klopp pre-season to prove his worth.

Written by Jack Mitchell (@jm97lfc)


The Origi-nal Liverpool Number 9

Divock Origi, the Belgian wonderkid was signed by Liverpool on the 29th of July, 2014 from Ligue 1 side Lille on a 5-year deal worth £10 million.

He was loaned back to the French outfit for a year and later formerly teamed the red army at the start of last season. Being the youngest player ever to score for the Belgians and the first player of Kenyan decent to score at a FIFA World Cup, Origi promises to be an exciting addition to the ever-growing Liverpool attack. Origi had some very impressive performances in the second half of last season as he gained back his fitness and got used to the style of football manager Jürgen Klopp wanted Liverpool to play.

Origi spearheaded the Liverpool attack in the second half of last season when Daniel Sturridge was out injured. The no. 9 position last season was heavily injury plagued with Origi, Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Sturridge having their fair share of injuries. However, there were a few occasions where Klopp had a preference for Origi over Sturridge in the number 9 role.

But who really would be most preferred for that role this upcoming season?

Origi impacts on a game tremendously with his brute strength, impressive footwork, commanding aerial presence and very magnetic possession of the ball. Considering the kind of players which Jürgen Klopp has worked with at Borussia Dortmund previously, Origi seems to be a more suitable option to the gaffer than Sturridge, Ings or Benteke.

In a post match interview after a 1-1 draw with Klopp’s previous employers in the Signal Iduna, Klopp singled out Origi for praise saying, “Divock was made for this game with the space he can make and how he can hold the ball.

Klopp obviously has taking a liking to the young Belgian’s attacking prowess but thinks Origi needs to work on his confidence.

Origi has had a decent start to his Liverpool career (The Mirror)

Origi needs a bit more experience and some faith to be shown in him which will give him the morale boost he so badly needs and we expect to see more from him next season.

Written by Adam Yidana (@1realdeezyblud)

Keep Calm – It’s Only Pre-Season

Liverpool suffered their first pre-season defeat in the early hours of Thursday at the hands of rivals Chelsea. After coasting through friendlies against the likes of Fleetwood, Wigan and Huddersfield, the general consensus was that this was the Reds’ first challenge of the season.

A 10th minute Gary Cahill header was enough to give Chelsea the spoils at the Rose Bowl, with Liverpool struggling to break Chelsea down from that point on. As expected, the defeat was heavily scrutinized on social media, with the Reds now no longer winning the league but bound to mid-table mediocrity.

Twitter and Facebook was rife with comments like “we still can’t defend set pieces”, “Karius is just as bad as Mignolet” and “Klavan looks slow and clumsy”. Sigh.

klavan chelsea

There are a few reasons why I’ve never really bought into the idea that results matter in pre-season. 1) The number of changes that take place. Can you really judge and criticize how a side will do in a season based on 45 minutes with one side and 45 minutes with another side? Liverpool made eight substitutions in the second half, with Brannagan, Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Milner, Markovic, Ings, Wisdom and Adam Lallana coming on in the second half.

Chelsea made half of the changes, keeping their back line on through the entire match. Could we really expect the likes of Brannagan, Alexander-Arnold, Wisdom and Markovic to come on, settle straight away and change things? Of course not. It is never nice to lose (especially to that lot) but Klopp seems to be focusing on getting minutes in the legs rather than making tactical changes and trying to get a result as he will August 13th.

Secondly, specially on Thursday morning, it is difficult to look past the amount of absentees from the LFC side. In Matip, Sakho, Wijnaldum, Can, Sturridge and Origi you are missing a large chunk of the probable squad for our opener against Arsenal. Crucially in terms of the Chelsea game, we are missing serious firepower with Sturridge and Origi too. Hopefully after Sturridge has had a full pre-season under Klopp he can really show everyone how good he is next year.

If we can keep Sturridge fit and Origi can continue developing as he was, we have two quality forward options for next season that weren’t even on the pitch on Thursday. Other noticeable absentees came in the form of our England squad members until later on in the game.

With the above names that’s nine of the squad for the opener that weren’t involved. Expecting us to be able to roll over a Chelsea side with Conte as manager with those absentees is ambitious and, in pre-season, a bit pointless.

Generated by  IJG JPEG LibraryGenerated by  IJG JPEG Library

Last year, a Manchester United team managed by Louis Van Gaal beat Barcelona 3-0 before having one of their worst seasons in recent history. Win or lose, it’s impossible to make anything out of the result of a pre-season game.

Each team is up to a different stage and are training in different ways. By all accounts Liverpool trained the morning of the game. It’s looking clear that Klopp is trying to get the squad in the best shape possible for what promises to be an exciting season ahead.

Another aspect to consider is the correlation between pre-season results and the following campaign. For example, prior to the 2008/09 season when we hammered Manchester United and Real Madrid and achieved a record points tally, we failed to beat Villarreal, Hertha Berlin and Wilsa Krakow in pre-season. Prior to the 2014/15 season in which Chelsea walked the league, they were held by RZ Pellets WAC and battered 3-0 by Weder Bremen.

Last year, a Manchester United team managed by Louis Van Gaal beat Barcelona 3-0 before having one of their worst seasons in recent history. Win or lose, it’s impossible to make anything out of the result of a pre-season game.

Each team is up to a different stage and are training in different ways. By all accounts Liverpool trained the morning of the game. It’s looking clear that Klopp is trying to get the squad in the best shape possible for what promises to be an exciting season ahead.

*Ignore all the above if we beat AC Milan. If we do that, we will win the treble*

Written by Jack Mitchell (@jm97lfc)

New Striker Anyone?

Does Jürgen Klopp need a need striker? Certainly if Christian Benteke goes as is widely being reported it will leave a huge gap in the squad that will need to be filled.

Although Benteke did not get the playing time he wanted last season at Anfield and all indicators this summer point to him leaving, he is nevertheless a talented player who will flourish at the right club. One that will play to his strengths more. From the moment Klopp took control it seemed he just did not fancy adopting a system of play that would benefit Benteke. He prefers a mobile striker who can adapt on the pitch to movement changes and still keep involved in the game effectively. This was just never one of Benteke’s strengths to begin with.

So if Benteke leaves I do not think Klopp will leave the ambition of both himself and the club in the hands of a regularly injury prone top class striker and two young talented but otherwise yet to be proven strikers. Danny Ings and Divock Origi, undoubtedly have huge talent and potential but Klopp might just feel he needs to bolster his options here and in doing so go for a proven striker with the mobility he likes. Outgoings this summer will give him the chance to sign one of those kind of strikers although who that would be is not totally clear.

Klopp seems to like his mobile interchanging attacking midfield but he also knows in games these do tend to provide chances that need putting away with a more regular efficiency. One of the problems last season was the amount of good chances created that were not converted regularly enough. So with this in mind I would be pleased to see a new striker arrive at Anfield that can play right up top in the box with a killer instinct and a greedy selfish streak as. A thing Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush, John Aldridge and Michael Owen always had. We need one that only thinks of the goal when he sees the whites of the posts ahead of him. A killer.

Luis Suarez is the last example Liverpool have had of that and it was no coincidence that Daniel Sturridge started to look at his best also in that period. Question is, who would Klopp like to have as a new striker and will he get his man?

Let’s all hope so, as it is a huge season for Liverpool’s strikers in terms of goals obviously but also in learning what else is expected of them. Something which I don’t think suits every striker. As Benteke found out to his cost unfortunately for him.

Written by Stephen King (@stephenking75)

Liverpool Have A Spine At Last

Late last year I wrote a piece about Liverpool’s spine or the lack thereof in the current team. How as a team, Liverpool had very few if any leaders, how players didn’t seem to trust each other or believe in themselves especially in defence and how up top Liverpool were light and toothless.

If I remember correctly I think I finished the piece off by saying something along the lines that if Liverpool didn’t strengthen in the core areas, that as fans we would be waiting a long time for success both domestically and further afield. As it turned out I was right. Last season Liverpool got to 2 major cup finals and lost both of them.

This summer is yet another summer of transition for not only the team but the club as a whole. With the new stand nearing completion, talks of a take over floating around, Liverpool are once again one of the most attractive clubs in world football. Then there’s the Jürgen Klopp effect. With the club, for the first time ever worth over a billion dollars, fans were screaming out for marquee buys. As we’ve seen that’s not going to happen. While the money is there, it goes against everything Jürgen Klopp us about. He makes superstars, not buys them. As expected this summer there has been a raft of new players coming in, some fans have heard of and some fans know nothing about. Klopp has seen the problematic areas and has looked to rectified them.

He has brought in big strong players in the important positions, players like Joel Matip and Marko Grujic who add height and strength to their positions. Klopp has brought in a goalkeeper who is brimming with confidence in Loris Karius. With those 3 players and the established players like Mamadou Sakho and Emre Can there is a nucleus of a strong spine back in the Liverpool team. The recent addition of Georginio Wijnaldum will add yet more bite to the Liverpool midfield if that’s where Klopp chooses to play him. For me a midfield trio of Wijnaldum, Grujic and Can will be difficult to break down and has the potential to be explosive on the counter attack as all three players have strength and speed at their disposal.

The addition of Sadio Mané and the fact Danny Ings is back up and playing gives Liverpool an added weapon in the fight for Premier League glory next season. Both players have the ability to play anywhere across the forward line and this is something that Liverpool lacked last season. When you throw a fit Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Phillipe Coutinho, Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino in to the mix gives Liverpool an added edge over a lot of teams in the Premier League. All of Liverpool’s attacking players have the want to get in to those goal scoring positions, they will pull opposition players out of position creating space for other players to attack and I expect each of those attacking players to score at least 5 if not more goals next season.

For the first time since the late 2000’s Liverpool have a proper and strong spine to the team. While players in other positions may be deemed weaker and not good enough for Liverpool, with the spine the team has at the minute those deficiencies can be covered over. The addition of both Matip and Grujic should see Liverpool not be bullied anymore in and around their box and their height will cause opposition defenders headaches from set pieces, and hopefully they’ll be able to add goals and assists as Liverpool chase glory this year.

Written by @TheMoanyOne

A Captain Dilemma 

Liverpool Football Club – THE most successful club in English Football.
As the most successful club, we should have a Captain befitting such a club.
Henderson is not that man.
As neither an outstanding player nor a great inspiration the arm band wears heavily on him.

Rumours that Jordan Henderson will be moved on this summer do not reflect the expectations you have for the Liverpool FC captain. I wouldn’t expect to see our captain being linked with other mid-table clubs. This is not a personal attack on Henderson – he was asked to captain the club, a massive honour, why would he turn it down? I believe he has & will do the best he can whilst wearing that arm band.

It’s a sad reflection on the club that Henderson was actually in contention for the arm band. Brendan Rodgers & FSG seemed to be so interested in reducing the wage bill, they didn’t realise that by doing so we also cleared out most of the natural leaders from the club.
So who should be Captain?

I believe there are only 3 contenders, with no stand out candidate.

Dejan Lovren – a ‘phoenix from the flames’ story for Dejan. Once a £20 million embarrassment the man showed the character to come through this and start to turn in some performances befitting of his fee. His performances and confidence levels appear to have been as a result of Klopps arrival at the club. How long can he keep these performance levels up? He appears to fold like a pack of cards when things go wrong for him though, not the type of quality you want in a Captain when the team need a push.

Emre Can – Interesting dilemma with Emre. Still a young player, with only a short tenure at the club, but he has shown leadership qualities already – backed up with some great performances. Maybe the extra responsibiliuty would inspire Emre, or maybe it would weigh him down. I think its too soon for Emre but maybe one for further consideration in a few years?

Mamadou Sakho – he’s become a bit of a cult hero at the club, with his unconventional style and his effervescent attitude he’s won over many critics. He seems to be a popular member of the squad and has immersed himself into the ‘Liverpool Country’ – he even handled the recent drugs issue with class. With Matips arrival it may mean he struggles to be a certain starter.

Given our current lack of contenders, Sakho would get the nod from me. Much depends on Klopps preferred centre back partnership. Matip would be expected to be a starter, with either Sakho or Lovren alongside him. I believe Klopp should choose the winner of that battle as his Captain. 

However, I still think this is a role that Jurgen needs to pay urgent attention to. 
Your Captain is often the pin up boy for your club, one that the rest of the world sees as a reflection of the current standing of the club. Its a role that should be filled with an icon.

We currently are making do with what we have and that’s not befitting of THE most successful club in English Football.

The Kirkby Academy – What Does It Produce

Right, after my debut Balotelli piece I thought for a while on who the next player article should be on, and after considering tackling the Mamadou Sakho issue or writing a piece on how consistently inconsistent Coutinho is (that would certainly divide opinion).

It hit me, what I should do is not look at the players we have brought in and who are in lime light or are making headlines for failed/passed drug tests, I should take a look at the players who’ve come through the ranks.

Now for me I’ve never understood why the Liverpool Academy is in Kirkby, yes I know we needed the room to build one and that site up there had it, but having been on this planet 32 years and been a red for all that time I’ve been brought up by my dad who used to show me an my brother videos of Liverpool destroying teams and back in the day he did get the chance to take photos of them training (I’ll try pass them on for the site).
The players of old would run through brick walls for the manager, there were lads waiting in the wings for their chance to prove their worth if given the chance, and the one thing they all had in common was the first team all trained at the same complex, Melwood. For me that’s vital.

For years now I’ve spoke to my mates, one in particular (even though he’s a blue he’s alright) about why the Academy isn’t producing any players. What I mean by that is we’ve had no one come through it since Steven Gerarrd, and before you say John Flanagan or Jordan Rossiter, I mean someone of real quality, who’s been a first team regular. Is that down to scouting or the Academy? Maybe it’s a bit of both.

You look at some kids who have signed on as a 6/7 year old and has had high hopes (Conor Coady for example or Neil Mellor before him) they haven’t made and its very rare that those players deemed not good enough for Liverpool go on to achieve anything in terms of top flight football. They go to lower league teams and it’s always made me think why? One reason I think is too much focus is on foreign kids which is a shame really because there is local lads who are good enough and can be great given the right coaching, ie Aaron Cresswell at West Ham United. He is a good player, from Liverpool, how was he not spotted and deemed good enough? Having local lads in the team, for me is essential, they know what it means to play for Liverpool, they know what derby day means to fans, what beating Manchester United means to fans, I think to some of the players now it’s just another game and that’s the part of the club that worries me, but anyway I digress…. Getting back to it, A couple of things make which me me think it’s not working is:

1. There is about a 5 mile gap between Melwood and the Academy.

2. The curse of modern football, money!

I’ll tackle the distance issue first.

With the first team at West Derby and the kids in Kirkby I’ve always thought  (given I’m a staunch red) what incentive do these up an coming reds have to want to make it in the first team, the lads in the U-21’s who are at the top of the tree in Kirkby they can’t do any better there, now I know a couple do make the trip up to Melwood but is that enough? I think if we want a conveyor belt of talent the U-21’s and the first team they should be training on the same complex, so that these kids can see what their hard work can lead to, maybe I’m biased but I’m not arsed but as a kid, can you imagine going to work an seeing your heroes day in day out and if you work hard your reward of playing with them will come true, you could learn from them, or maybe I’m just delusional. We will never know, but the successful reds of the past worked this way maybe it’s time for a change?

The second issue I have is, well not with the Academy but with modern football in general, I refer back to the incentive part of the last paragraph, again without banging on about history, but again back in the day doing their YTS’s the young reds would have to clean boots and changing rooms, imagine telling some of these kids that now? Look at Sergi Canos for example the kid had a half decent season at Brentford an if reports are true wanted £10,000 a week to stay, thankfully the club declined now he’s at Norwich, but that’s the main problem you see 18/19 year olds driving to the academy in £60-£70,000 cars an they are all on a decent wage, so why would they wanna work even harder, they have everything they want already, maybe I’m wrong but this is what’s good about opinions, we’ve all got one.

Time will tell whether things will change, I did hear few weeks back that having the U-21’s at Melwood maybe in the pipeline but who knows for sure, one thing we do know is, if we want to be successful the Academy and its players need to up their game.

Written by Chris Hurst (@ChrisHurst__)