The Daniel Sturridge debate has been one that has raged on ever since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival at Anfield and was intensified by the striker’s recent performances. With an injury record to rival Wilshere and Carroll and Klopp’s penchant for using him from the bench more often than not, it’s safe to say that his future can be classified as ‘in doubt’.
However, the quality Sturridge possesses is unquestioned. This, after all, is a player that scored 24 goals alongside Luis Suarez in 2013/14 and was England’s number one striker for a period. For some this is enough to give him a pass on the injuries and loss of form but does that mean he has a future at the club?
Well, the team here at Friends of Liverpool have been asked for their opinion and this is what they had to say:
I should preface this by saying I love Daniel Sturridge. He’s a wonderful footballer and offers something really, really special. He has that intangible factor that can change games from out of nowhere. However, consistency has been an issue for him with us in the last three years or so. Not necessarily form inconsistency but playing and injury inconsistency. There’s some pretty shoddy stats I’m sure some of the others will quote exactly about his starting record in the last 120 or so games being pretty much non-existent while Klopp clearly doesn’t think he offers nearly enough to warrant starting when he is fit. All of that has lead to a loss of a half yard of pace and confidence.
The Sturridge we see now is not the Sturridge that joined us from Chelsea four Januarys ago. When he came on at Spartak the only thing I took from his performance was his petulance. He threw strop after strop and tried to do everything himself. This is becoming eerily reminiscent of the decline of Fernando Torres before his departure. Injuries destroyed his pace and, while he still scored, he wasn’t the same destroyer we saw when he arrived. I fear the same thing is happening to Sturridge and it may be time for him to move on for the good of his career.
For 18 months we probably saw the best of Daniel Sturridge. On summer deadline day in 2012, we offloaded Andy Carroll to West Ham on loan and were left with only Luis Suarez to lead the line. He did better than many expected but needed the pressure easing on his broad shoulders. When Daniel Sturridge’s name popped up followed by the mentioning of a £12 million price tag, groans would end the passage of conversation. He soon proved people wrong and showed his goalscoring prowess immediately in a red shirt. He had had injury problems at Chelsea so everyone was aware that he was a physical time bomb that could explode at any minute. But for 18 months he never did. We all sat and waited for it to happen. Instead, he scored goal after goal, game after game, and played a vital part in Liverpool coming the closest they have done to winning the league in 25 years.
The season after though it happened. The injuries began to creep in and the confidence began to seep away until we are left with the Daniel Sturridge you see today – a man who is a shell of the footballer he once was. Gone is the player who plants a seed of uncertainty in defenders minds and has to be watched at all times. Now you have a player who has adapted his game out sheer shithousery. He has never been the bravest player but changing your style of play so you don’t get injured is an admission of defeat that you aren’t what you once were. For a moment in pre-season, it looked like he was back. He came on against Bayern Munich and burst through into the left channel before lifting the ball over Sven Ulreich and into the goal. But seeing the lack of pace he had to run onto that ball and watching him immediately hold his thigh (he was taken off after only 10 minutes of action) was sad. The final nail in Sturridge’s coffin came against Newcastle. He was brought into the team as he is probably the best finisher at the club, if not one of the best in the league on his day. However, he again dropped outside the box too often and threw himself on the floor whenever someone came near him.
Daniel Sturridge has immense talent but is being cheated out of it by his own mind. It’s time he is sold while we can still get some decent money for him, so we can replace him with a player just like the one he used to be.
Having been a key player for Liverpool for most of his time at Anfield, Sturridge now finds himself reduced to the role of substitute at Anfield, and that’s a status I can’t see changing anytime soon. Even with the Reds’ much-feted forward line misfiring of late, the England international failed to make the most of the chances he got against Spartak Moscow and Newcastle recently. Unless one of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane returns from the international break with an injury, Sturridge is most likely to be on the bench for the crunch game against Manchester United on Saturday week.
There’s no denying that the spate of injuries has taken its toll on Sturridge, who has paid the price for that litany of woe allied to the outstanding form of Mane and Firmino last season, along with Salah in his first few weeks at Anfield. The feeling among many Reds is that the club should cash in on Sturridge, but if one or more of the first-choice front three should pick up a lengthy injury, where else does Klopp turn for firepower? Ben Woodburn is talented but cannot be pressured into carrying Liverpool’s goalscoring burden on his teenage shoulders.
Despite Sturridge’s frustrating injury record, he has a knack of scoring whenever he takes to the field and those missed chances in Moscow and Newcastle haven’t distorted my opinion of his goal-poaching ability. Until the Reds sign another quality striker, I would be reluctant to get rid of Sturridge. Mark my words; he could have a massive role to play later in the season, as the Mane-Firmino-Salah triumvirate is unlikely to get through the entire campaign without being forcibly broken up on at least a couple of occasions.
I have to begin with expressing my sheer adulation for Sturridge. I strongly believe he’s the best finisher at the club, and at a time where finishing is incredibly one of two major weaknesses at the club (along with, of course, defending), Sturridge may well be the answer. As much as I admire and respect Klopp, we all know his substitutions are extremely frustrating, often bringing on the right personnel just at the wrong time. By that, I mean introducing Sturridge or Solanke in a tough game where they’re thrown straight into the fray, rather than when we’re winning comfortably (rarely, if ever) in an attempt to find their feet in the new season.
Watching back that infamous 2o13/14 season is agonizingly painful in terms of both what could have been and also how Sturridge used to find the net with ease, yet it also proves just how lethal he can be at full fitness. I say give Sturridge a string of games in the starting lineup, rather than one here and there, especially against a defensively minded and hard-hitting Newcastle side. I do however fear that Klopp will be much more ruthless and finally ship out the forward in either January or next summer, if either his drab performances continue or he picks up another unfortunate injury, a situation almost inevitable in the career of the talented forward. It will certainly be a sad day for the club should Klopp make such a decision, so I’d 100% keep the more often than not deadly forward at Liverpool.