The case of Daniel Sturridge has become an interesting one since this season began. Liverpool can finally be faced with the best kind of problem squad depth - too much, over too little - the striker has found himself sitting on the bench for much of the start of the campaign. While he’s had fairly successful outings playing in the wider role, it’s clear to everyone that he’s a center forward. Any center forward will tell you the same thing - they prefer to play in the middle and prefer to be scoring goals. They wouldn’t be playing that position otherwise. Sturridge is no exception. He’s made it clear he’s here to do a job for the club, and the manager, and if that means playing in a position he’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, so be it.
Weird, it’s like no one else cares what he has to say about it and wants to keep on with the “Sturridge is lazy” narrative, even most recently Graeme Souness.
“I don’t worry about that. It’s an unfair opinion. I feel that I contribute to the team with assists and goals. It doesn’t really matter what people say to me,” he said to The Guardian when asked about this perception.
While he has yet to score in the Premier League this season, he’s made stunning contributions in the EFL Cup and to the England squad, most recently in their wins against Malta and Scotland. With the front three of Coutinho, Firmino, and Mané working on all burners and not needing much of a replacement, Sturridge is largely left out. An odd situation for Sturridge to be found in for sure, as he remains one of the most prolific goal scorers the club currently has.
“It’s about positional awareness at the end of the day,” he said. “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.”
An awareness is key, positionally and mentally, and something he doesn’t often get enough credit for. It’s clear he knows what he’s doing on the pitch, where he needs to be and why, and while England is affording him more of a chance for that now than Liverpool are, it’s also clear to him what is most important - the team.
“Goals are what I enjoy doing but it’s the team that matters. As long as we win games and you’re part of that result you move forward and you have confidence.
“But it’s great to contribute with goals because all strikers want to score.”