England and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has recently felt the need to defend himself. One of the accusations aimed at the striker is that he is not enough of a team player.
Sturridge divides opinion amongst football fans. He is a natural goalscorer, but at times he seems like he’s playing on his own.
Often ignoring better-placed teammates and playing with a perceived selfishness.
Some may say that is the sign of a good striker. A good striker will look to score a goal, but a world-class striker will pass when necessary and know the right ball to play. Even the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo will pass occasionally, even if he is loath to do it at times.
His job is to score goals
Talking about his role in the team, Sturridge told the Guardian: “It’s about positional awareness at the end of the day,”
“My job is to score and my job is to create for the team and coming into the midfield positions is maybe too deep.
“I feel that if I’m coming short and I’m trying to get involved in the game, then there’s no one up front in the forward positions. “It’s important to have a focal point of the team. If I drop deep and come on the ball and take people on, there’s no one in the centre-forward position.
“That’s where I need to be, in between the lines, threatening the centre-halves, pushing them back and creating space for the other people.
“Sometimes I have to drop in there to maybe give them a different picture to create more problems but, again, it’s about being in the box. That is where I need to be.”
Problems at Liverpool
Some would say that Sturridge has a point in saying that when he moves out of lone striker role his team does not have a focal point. However, that is where his problem at Liverpool lies. Reds boss Jurgen Klopp prefers to use a more flexible system that allows his attacking players to rotate.
This flexible system gives defenders problems, as they do not know which players to pick up and it creates space for the Reds attacking players. Klopp has preferred Brazilian attacker Roberto Firmino in the lone striker role for much of the season, as he is more willing to harry and chase defenders. Former Hoffenheim star is also more versatile than Sturridge.
Klopp’s decision has paid dividends so far with Liverpool top of the table and are odds of 5/2 to be crowned champions in May.
Sturridge has fallen out-of-favour with Klopp on Merseyside. The 27-year-old has made just five Premier League starts this season, failing to score and producing three assists. The fact that Sturridge has been accused of not being a team player and he has three league assists this season seems to suggest otherwise.
The striker has proven in the past that he can work well alongside others. For example when he combined so well with Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez in season 2013/14. The Reds came so close to ending their long wait for a top-flight title, because of the pairs understanding.
Sturridge produced eight assists in that particular campaign. Maybe it is a matter of not that the striker does not pass. But chooses who he wants to pass to. In any team, that sort of attitude can cause a problem. It can create grudges and divide teams.
Sturridge will always score goals
At 27-years-old Daniel Sturridge is no longer young. He can no longer talk about potential and Sturridge is what he is. The striker cannot change his personality or style of play at his current age, so we just have to accept that.
He may be considered greedy or as a player who is selfish or a player whose decision making is poor at times. However, the simple truth is that Sturridge is a talented natural born goalscorer. The England international may never be some people’s cup of Chai, Klopp included. However, he scores goals and probably always will at a good level.
For Daniel Sturridge to ever be truly appreciated we may just have to accept that he only human. He will make mistakes and may never become world-class. The striker is a very goal-getter. England are probably lucky to have him at their disposal.
The Three Lions are not exactly overstocked in the striking department at the moment. His national team definitely needs him, even if his club side do not at the moment.
What is your take on Daniel Sturridge?