It is about time people got off of Daniel Sturridge’s back.
He changed the game for England on Friday night when he opened the scoring against Scotland with his instinctive header. Not only did he finish off the move, but he played a crucial role in the build up as well.
The Liverpool man has rightly defended himself having had to dodge a lot of unfair criticism directed at him so far this campaign.
Speaking in response to those that have said he doesn’t offer enough to the team, he told the Liverpool Echo: “I feel that I contribute to the team. I assist, I score goals. I’m not worried about what other people say about me.”
“I feel that if I’m coming short to get involved in the game then there is nobody up front in the centre forward position and it is important for the team to have a focal point.”
“If I drop deep and get on the ball, do skills and take people on, then there is nobody up front and that is where I need to be.”
“I need to be between the lines, threatening the centre-halves, pushing them and creating space for other people.”
“That’s why we have a No 10 and it was Wazza (Wayne Rooney). I need to make space for him. If I drop deep it cramps his style a bit. It’s about positional awareness.”
“It is about being involved in the game as much as possible. My job is to score and to create for the team. It is about being in the box and that is where I need to be.”
His movement into a deeper area in the build up to his goal opened up the play and eventually saw the ball find Kyle Walker who was there to assist Sturridge.
The threat Sturridge posed upon moving inside, in fact, exposed Wayne Rooney for his lack of contribution in attacking areas.
Working hard for the team comes in different forms. It isn’t just frantically chasing defenders down for 90 minutes.
Sturridge’s work for the team is far more subtle, but still important. His decision to move inside is clearly against his wishes to drift around the opposition defence. This demonstrates him working for the team by occupying different positions in order to make things happen.
Similarly, his movement is excellent for two reasons. One being that it often means he finds himself in goal scoring positions and the second being that it intentionally opens up space for his teammates. Remember the run he made against Leicester earlier this season that drew out the defenders and left Roberto Firmino through on goal?
The goals will return soon enough. In the meantime, he deserves to be left to do what he is doing as he looks to rediscover his top form.