The Sturridge Dilemma

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By Ernie Fox

It’s been a roller coaster of a career for the 26 year old so far; on one hand he has surpassed expectations for Liverpool beating Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush Roger Hunt and Luis Suarez with a better goals return from his first 50 games than any of these club legends, but on the other hand his injury problems have seen him miss almost as many games as he’s played. So where do we stand with Sturridge? What could he have achieved by now had he remained injury free? Do we keep holding out for him to rediscover his form or is it time to consider our options in the January transfer window?

When Daniel Sturridge first signed for Liverpool in 2013 there were a number of mixed opinions as to how he would manage at the club. Certain former managers claimed that he wasn’t what Liverpool were looking for at the time, that he possibly didn’t have the right attitude to succeed. There was never any doubt as to his talent, but having failed to make a significant impact at either Man City or Chelsea, his move to Anfield was seen as his last chance to prove himself as being able to play at the highest level.

Sturridge was quick prove his doubters wrong and answer his critics; he scored on his début against Mansfield Town in the FA Cup after just 7 minutes having been brought on as a sub, and then followed that up with a goal against Manchester United in his league début. If that wasn’t enough Sturridge went on to score against Norwich in his first league start and home début, he was an instant success at the club and continued that success through to the following season.

The season 2013-14 season will be best remembered for the formidable partnership forged between Suarez and Sturridge with the latter finishing runner up in the golden boot award to his Uruguayan team mate with 21 league goals. Sturridge was just as successful n front of goal without his strike partner, with Suarez missing the first part of the season through suspension Sturridge continued his goal scoring run from the season before, scoring the first goal of the league season to give Liverpool an opening day 1-0 victory and following that up with three more in the next two games.

In his time at the club Sturridge has shown his world class quality, his ability to score against any opposition without relying on any one particular team mate. Arguably Suarez was the stand out performer of 2013-14, but it wasn’t a one man show, Sturridge played his part which is why there was a genuine belief amongst some supporters that when Suarez left in the summer of 2014, Liverpool would cope with the loss – history will show quite rightly that they didn’t.

But the fact is that last season we were missing two outstanding performers; Suarez may have been sold to Barcelona but Sturridge spent much of the season on the sidelines. I make no excuses for the team’s performances because they were at times simply dreadful but from Sturridge’s point of view, he was just as much of a loss to the team as Suarez, his return was eagerly awaited to turn the team’s fortunes around; but sadly for Brendan Rodgers it wasn’t in time to save his job.

Fast forward to today and we are still waiting. We’ve seen brief moments from Sturridge in that time, but with the constant injuries it makes you wonder whether we need to bite the bullet and make a move in the transfer window to replace him with a more reliable forward. The trouble is, even if he does combat his injury issues we’re not guaranteed to have the same player back that sparkled almost two years ago.

I feel frustrated for the 26 year old because this shouldn’t be on the agenda, he has done the hard part and proven his doubters wrong when it comes to his ability and attitude on the field, but sadly it could be injuries that prevent him from fulfilling his potential as a world class goal scorer. Against Swansea we saw Sturridge return once more from a period on the sidelines and only time will tell whether he can maintain his fitness for an extended period, but January is fast approaching and I suspect that should he be hit with any further injuries we could well see a like for like replacement coming in just over a month’s time.

Written by Ernie Fox

Twitter: @ernietfox