There was once a time when Daniel Sturridge was one of the most feared strikers in Europe. In reality his is a tragic tale because in so many ways deep down, he is still that lethal weapon inside the penalty area that he always was. It doesn’t take a genius though to realise that his career has been severely hampered by a series of lengthy injuries. There are few things sadder to see on a football pitch than a player struggling to get close to the dizzy heights he once reached, and a part of me is starting to feel that way with Sturridge.
The heady days of the Luis Suarez/Daniel Sturridge partnership are now far behind us. It has been less than four years but it already feels like an eternity ago. Few players remain from that magical league run under Brendan Rodgers. There’s obviously no longer Suarez, no longer Steven Gerrard, and in reality the Sturridge of that era is no more too. We could even go as far to say that the Sturridge of that brilliantly audacious Europa League final goal in 2016 is no longer with us either.
I am far from saying that Sturridge is no longer a functional striker. He’s still far more than that. But we certainly need to adjust our expectations for him these days. As he has demonstrated already this season, he still knows where the goal is and scored his long awaited first ever Champions League goal in Red. We all know deep down though that he is not Jurgen Klopp’s first choice centre forward, lying a distant second currently behind Roberto Firmino.
Sturridge has become a situational striker for us this year. He is unlikely to be called off the bench unless the circumstances are just right. If one of the incumbent front three is unavailable there is the possibility he could start but even that isn’t guaranteed anymore. He just doesn’t have the horse power to execute the system anymore. To be honest even at his best, he was never really that kind of player to begin with. I am just glad he is still available to be called upon when needed which hasn’t always been the case in the last three years.
Honestly, I absolutely love Daniel Sturridge. Despite all the injuries, despite the fact I know he doesn’t suit the style as well as Firmino, I still silently hope that he starts every game just because I enjoy watching him play so much. You just never know what type of goal Sturridge will score. It could be a poacher’s finish or it could be a remarkable goal we’ll never forget. You just never quite know and I just adore that mercurial ability. Firmino is a fantastic player and brings so much to the table week in and week out.. but he just isn’t Daniel Sturridge. Aside from everything else, his goal celebration dances just aren’t in the same league at all!
I had many reasons for being drawn to Sturridge from the outset: He’s a striker, he’s left footed, he’s cheeky, he’s unconventional, he’s got world class banter, and most importantly he’s absolutely clinical in the box. I mean, what’s not to love? As far as we know he has never particularly angled for a move away from Anfield either. One may argue this is because nobody will match his wages but I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a rich owner out there who wouldn’t be begging for a player of his ability. His loyalty and passion for the club has always been evident to me.
The story of Daniel Sturridge is slowly but surely turning into a ‘what could have been’ rather than a ‘what is still to come’ tale. He is far from old in a biological sense, but all the signs suggest that we have already seen the best years from Daniel. It breaks my heart to say this as since his arrival, he has been one of the players I most enjoyed watching, both on and off the pitch. He will go down as one of my favourite ever Liverpool players no matter what the future holds. That accolade is set fairly well in stone by now. For all the misinformed negativity about his character, my opinion of Sturridge the man has never been anything but the highest of quality. He’ll make you laugh, he’ll make you cry, he’ll make you cheer, and the best part is you can never really tell what is coming.