AFTER all the talk of the Reds being set up as a perfect away team over the last few weeks we all expected more of the same against West Ham, if we are honest with ourselves.
A strong away performance that would focus on keeping a clean sheet, with three defensive-minded or at least players with a defensive mindset shielding our much-improved defence and ‘keeper in the hope that one of our better players would do something great to win us the match. In the days leading up to the game I was pretty much convinced that this was the best we could hope for given the absentee list and the impact it has had on our ability to create chances.
The thing is, before kick-off I hadn’t even thought that Dan Sturridge would or could start. You see, in my head, someone who hasn’t started a game for four months probably shouldn’t be able to pick up where he left off in 2014.
Say what you want about him, but Sturridge is one of the best players we have and one of the best centre forwards in the Reds’ recent history. On a purely talent basis he is up there with Fernando Torres, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Luis Suarez, and whoever else you want to lash in the mix. Look at it this way, a 100 per cent fit Sturridge, playing and available for Liverpool all season, wins us well more points than we have now; probably 30 more. We would have finished the league with more points than was possible at the start just because he is so fucking good, and handsome and cool.
The problem we have had is that the version that has been available for the majority of the season has been a pale imitation. Worries about his strength, suitability and mental capacity to play through pain or perceived pain, whether fair or unfair, have pretty much followed any discussion surrounding him this season as opposed to us marvelling at his brilliance. He is one big contradiction – the flag bearer for this slightly Jekyll and Hyde Liverpool team.
Jürgen Klopp has come in for a fair bit of criticism for not having more attacking strength in depth this season, but imagine running training sessions with the best centre forward in Europe every day and then making a plan that doesn’t involve him just winning matches for the Reds whenever he wants. Seriously, for a manager he must be a fucking nuisance. A nightmare. A proverbial thorn in the side. Not because of his injury record or fitness concerns, more that his brilliance, lurking in the shadows, still evident on occasion, must hinder your thoughts in relation to the rest of your squad. You must be naturally inclined to believe that he will produce the goods. It is human nature, particularly if you have got any semblance of optimism running through your veins.
Do we need to buy a replacement for Sadio Mane when he is out? Well yes, but look at this princely bastard, beating his team-mates for fun, won’t he bang them in if he plays like this? Sunday, after not starting for four months, he clicks into gear with movement so bright and that uncanny ability to find space and beat a man that has been so sorely missed and desperately lacking since Mane got injured and succinctly sums up the problem with having him in your squad. He’s too good as a footballer to be considered a luxury item but not robust enough as a footballer to be considered anything more. Too good to throw away, but not good enough to frame and build your side around given that there is no guarantee that he will be available the week after.
The Sturridge dichotomy. He hasn’t played properly since Suarez left and then starts Sunday and is on it and looks invincible; like this thing is easy; like he’s some kind of Ancient Greek God in human form, ghosting past these mere mortals and toying with their emotions like he is playing a massive big game of FIFA with Zeus. Any lingering doubts or worries about his fitness are quickly forgotten as he pulls teams apart and an extended run in the side as one of the elite centre forwards in the league is on the cards, until Zeus gets a cob on and swaps his hip with your nan’s because he is fucking Zeus, mate, and poor Sturridge doesn’t run again until October. Nothing would sum the situation up better than if he was now, after his best game in years, ruled out on Sunday with his dodgy hip. If we are thinking that, imagine what the manager thinks?
And maybe that is part of the problem. Maybe he needs the team to be set up to play to his strengths and yet isn’t in a position at Liverpool to justify that level of confidence from the manager. It is no coincidence that Sunday, he thrived in a system that pitted him more often than not next to a central partner, one able to stretch play and distract markers, with a deep-lying magician looking for his every move. Maybe the counter argument from the player would be that he isn’t necessarily suited to the Reds style of play this year, so change your fucking style of play.
One thing that is for sure, is that Sunday’s performance brings the question of his future right back into everyone’s thought process. What does the future hold for him? Christ knows. Should we sell him? Almost certainly not – he is one of the best centre forwards in the league. Will we be able to rely on him next season? Ask Zeus, you might as well, no other fucker knows. Will the tactical changes that the manager is clearly planning for next season play to his strengths?
Let’s see what Sunday brings and then go from there. Champions League footie with Dan Sturridge in your squad? Seems like a nice idea, doesn’t it? Let’s do that then Reds, eh?
Up the wriggly armed Reds. May they wriggle forever more.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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The boy is pure class but unfortunately appears to be made from cornflakes. I would not sell him tho’ rather bring in another striker and pacy wide man and have him as part of the squad, rotate when necessary. One thing is for sure we would get more goals from him (via Phil) than we will with Origi who just doesn’t have that style of play in him
The problem there is he’s prob our second highest paid player now.
How can we have someone so well paid spend so much time on the bench?
He would defo be more effective in breaking down those stubborn defences.
Thing is we are going to spend more in wages on other players soon . Keeping him with us makes sense to me
I think the point is, if we do spend the same wages on another player then we have 2 forwards on £150k a week. Let’s say we can only keep one as other positions needs strengthening. Which one do you choose? The one who is likely to be injured for 75% of the season or the one who is likely to be fit for 75% of it.
I know after Sunday we all have this hope he can stay fit and be brilliant for us but it’s so unlikely. There’s more chance of sending him to Lourdes instead of pre-season and hoping he comes back cured. It’s not gonna happen.
In my view we must keep him if he is happy to stay.
Top clubs keep this kind of talent around. We categorically cannot sell him to another Premier League club.
Sturridge is that lucky shirt that can still pull in the birds on a Friday night. Showing small signs of wear n’ tear, but treat delicately can still do the business when the other lucky shirts are in the wash.
Would you throw that lucky shirt away?
Football is a squad game and it makes sense to have different ways of playing to get the best out of your squad, so we have one boss way of playing with Mane Bobby F Lallana and Phil and then we play a different boss way with Studge Divvy and Phil. If FSG have any brains they keep Studge and Lucas then add to this and find other boss ways to beat teams
Klopps decision will have already been made before Sunday,whatever that decision is.He’s not the type of manager who’ll be swayed by 2 games at the end of the season and personally I’d say Sturridge will be moving on.He’s been available for about 35 match day squads and seen very little action and I doubt he’d be too keen to be 3rd or 4th choice for another season either.
I’d be more than happy for him to stay but I reckon Klopp would rather use the wages/fee on someone else and Sturridge would rather be the main man a bit lower down the league than a member of the supporting cast for another year with us.If he stays,great,he’ll still be our most talented striker no matter who we sign,sadly I just don’t see it.
I agree with you Mick. Klopp’s decided most likely some time back.
Whatever his reasons I still appreciate the stuff both of them have produced so far.
West Ham were also at the beach.
Let’s just hope Borough is with them as well.
He’s what?.. 28 in September and moving into the age more prone to injuries. Don’t want to go through another 3 seasons of wondering :
1: can he play?
2. can we adjust a possible winning formation to accommodate his skills when he can play?
No chance. We’ve given him too much time and wishful thinking already. Take the cash and let him go so we can get a more reliable replacement for our system.
Even if a big club wants him, they’ll experience the same frustrations we suffered so I don’t care who buys him.
Trouble is, he’s a genius when fit and a lovely lad to boot- so I’d wish him all the best if he departs.