Jurgen Klopp has displayed some of his excellent man-management skills by choosing to laud Daniel Sturridge following the 4-1 Stoke City victory on Sunday.
Divock Origi came off the bench, scored twice and grabbed headlines, but the Liverpool manager was keen to praise Sturridge instead of the young Belgian.
“It’s normal after a game like this to speak about Divock Origi but today I want to speak about Daniel Sturridge,” Klopp said, reported in the Echo.
“He worked really hard, he scored a brilliant goal that was so important for us, and he spoke with Ojo on the pitch and kept him in the game. He told him ‘come on, stay positive’.
“So always really smart defending. He does not have to defend like Lucas Leiva, he has to defend smart, closing spaces and pushing them to one side and he did. I’m really happy with his performance today.”
For the first time since the League Cup Final in February, Sturridge played the full 90 minutes, and has put himself in contention for a start against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday night.
The striker bagged in the first-half, but like Klopp said, it was his overall work-rate and cleverness that was most impressive. We all know Sturridge can score goals, but Klopp’s Liverpool demands forwards put in all-action performances with movement, pressing and defensive contribution.
Sturridge has looked disappointed whenever substituted in recent weeks and would have been devastated at being dropped for the Europa League tie, so it’s smart from Klopp to praise him after the weekend.
Now, the manager must decide whether he’ll go with Sturridge, Origi or both midweek against Borussia Dortmund. Origi has to start, so it’s whether Klopp risks starting both the forwards or prefers Sturridge as a bench option.