The Curious Case of Daniel Sturridge

What now for Sturridge? Daniel Sturridge was arguably the best signing made by Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers. I agree the list of successful Rodgers signings is not a long one, but Sturridge undoubtedly is a player that has proven to be a success.

Sturridge was something of a journeyman when we signed him for £12M from Chelsea in January 2013.

Recognised as a young player with lots of ability, his temperament was often questioned. Talk of attitude problems in training was rumoured to be the reason why he failed to find first team football at Manchester City or Chelsea.

His brief stint at Bolton on loan however, appeared to show a player with all the skills in his locker to make it at Premier League level. His move to Liverpool was widely seen as being his last chance to make it at a top club & for ‘only’ £12M it was a gamble that the Reds were rightly prepared to take.

Sturridge settled in immediately, scoring on his debut and collecting 11 goals in 16 appearances for the Reds. The following season, he formed a formidable partnership with Luis Suarez being the spearhead of a drive towards our closest title challenge for years. Suarez and Sturridge were the top 2 goal scorers in the Premier League that year.

For all the success on the field a niggling doubt still remained. Suarez was easily the main man at the club, the Kop favourite, but it was obvious to fans that the two of them were never best friends. The difference for me was Luis put all his efforts into ensuring the team won, you got the impression with Sturridge it was more for personal glory.

Watching from the Kop we would often witness him throw his arms in the air towards his ‘family box’ in the Centenary Stand when he never received a pass from Suarez. It came across to me as disrespectful towards Luis, a sign of ‘I told you so’ to his family and maybe a touch of envy towards the adulation Luis received. This was overlooked by fans as that season Sturridge scored an amazing 24 goals in 33 games.

The following summer saw the departure of fans favourite Suarez to Barcelona. This presented Sturridge with the opportunity to step up. He was now the main man. The script was written – The fans would look to him and he could receive the adulation he appeared to crave.

The club recognised this too, offering him an impressive & expensive new contract as they sought to confirm his status as their ‘pin up boy’.

Time for Daniel to kick on.

It never happened though. Sturridge suffered a series of injuries meaning he only played 12 league games that season, and a total of 18 in all competitions. He scored just 5 goals that season. Sturridge spent more time seeing specialist in America than he did on the pitch.

Fans began to question his desire. Carragher and others questioned his willingness to play through the pain barrier; to play with the little niggles. Suarez was a player who was kicked throughout a game, but never missed a game through injury. His desire & appetite for the game meant he would play through the pain to contribute to the team. Sturridge appears to be missing this quality.

That season was a write off, his absence contributing to a poor season for the Reds, but with the start of the 2015/16 season we were optimistic to see Daniel return to his previous fitness levels. Sadly the season was stop/start for him with potentially his absence being a major part of the downfall of Rodgers.

He finished the season having played just 14 league games, 25 games in total but scoring an impressive 13 goals.

With Klopps arrival, Sturridge appears to have dropped further down the pecking order. Suddenly, from being England & Liverpools main striker, he was being overlooked for the likes of  Divock Origi & Danny Ings. Often Klopp even preferred to play with no recognised striker in the team, leaving Daniel on the bench…………….. or the treatment table. Klopp publicly speaking about issues in his ‘head’ never helped the fans suspicions towards Daniel (though Klopp later apologised for how this came across)

Sturridges stats are exceptional for the club. 55 goals in 94 games show what a natural finisher he is – but his appearances are for too inconsistent to build a team or playing style around him.

Sturridges every move is now being watched, every comment scrutinised, every facial expression dissected. Making comments about where he is asked to play is analysed by fans to support or slate him, depending on your view point. Interestingly, Origi was brought off the bench against Spurs ahead of Sturridge. The cameras immediately panned to catch the reaction of Sturridge, who was sat there almost expressionless. He must be have been wondering what he has to do to break back into the team, having scored twice after being brought on as a sub against Burton Albion. Now, he was behind Origi for Liverpool, and potentially Rashford for England. The conversation he had with Rose after the game would have been an interesting one to hear!

Once again, this has been construed as he was upset to be overlooked. Compounded by Sturridge eventually getting involved in the action with 5 minutes to go.

From my point of view, Sturridge appears to be a man unhappy at the club. Where has the Daniel Sturridge smile gone? Where is that dance? (Ok, if you do find it please leave it where it is).

He looks like someone who feels he should be starting every game, and his absences should be accommodated. He looks like a man who no longer feels loved where he is at.

These situations are often difficult to retrieve, and I’m not convinced Klopp is too keen to repair the damage. There is even talk that FSG are keen to remove his large salary from the wage bill, but would Klopp allow them to dictate his team selections? I doubt it!

A prolific centre forward is something every club (including Liverpool) crave, yet this one appears to be heading towards the exit door and most fans seem unconcerned, myself included.

Something about Daniel Sturridge & Liverpool is not fitting at the moment. Maybe it’s best for both parties that they divorce amicably.

A great player, but one who is too injury prone to rely upon.

Written by @lebigmc5times

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