Despite his rather impressive scoring record when he’s given the chance, it seems that once again, Daniel Sturridge may find himself in a position of fighting to save his lineup spot, even at Liverpool, trying to find that cross-season consistency that has eluded him for his entire career.
Sturridge was very impressive for the Reds after arriving in a January transfer from Chelsea, scoring 10 league goals in 16 matches for the team. It wasn’t enough to find a European spot, but it provided the future look of Liverpool, and how dangerous they might be with two forwards on the pitch instead of just Luis Suarez trying to do everything on his own.
What seemed especially impressive and promising was his combination with Philippe Coutinho, another January arrival, immediately thrown into the lineup and enjoyed a successful run as the creative force behind the two strikers, at least until Suarez was suspended for the remainder of the season after the biting incident.
But despite his impressive scoring run, Sturridge isn’t guaranteed a starting spot in the Liverpool lineup next season. If Luis Suarez does leave that does change the picture, but at the moment, it would be more surprising to see Sturridge start next to him upfront, while Iago Aspas is the one coming off the bench, not to mention Luis Alberto, more of a left winger than anything else, also looking to find significant playing time. And then there’s Fabio Borini, looking to build on his U-21 Euro success.
This isn’t the first time it has happened to Sturridge. He had a fantastic start to his Manchester City career, but pretty soon expensive arrivals pushed him out of the way, and he was forced to start looking for football somewhere else. The start at Chelsea wasn’t too promising, but after a loan spell with Bolton (8 goals in 12 matches), it was hard to ignore him when he came back to Stamford Bridge.
Andre Villas Boas used Sturridge in a winger capacity, and still got the best football anyone has out of him (until his Liverpool arrival), but things changed once Roberto Di Matteo arrived, benching Sturridge, preferring to use Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres. Sturridge did finish his first full season for Chelsea with 11 league goals in 30 matches, but next season, with both the Italian and Rafa Benitez, it was clear his future was somewhere else.
He might not be a world class striker like Suarez, Van Persie and others around the continent, but at 23, Sturridge is still waiting for the club that gives him the opportunity to show he’s more than a one hit wonder, and his success from the first four months of football at Anfield can transcend into the next season as well.
Being quick and left footed makes managers try and use him on the wing instead of his more natural centre forward position, which leads to less than impressive performances, and eventually losing his place in the lineup.
Sturridge is one of the best strikers, not young or anything, England has to offer at the moment, which should be good enough to put him in the Liverpool lineup. Hopefully for him, he’ll get the chance to prove he can work his magic for more than a few initial months.