Aside from being a pretty decent football manager, Jürgen Klopp has also revealed himself to be a master of artfully drawing attention to certain obvious truths that somehow elude the spotlight. While Divock Origi rightfully received the lion's share of attention in the wake of Liverpool's 4-1 dismantling of Stoke City, the manager sought to make sure Daniel Sturridge's contributions were not lost in the shuffle.
Klopp's estimation of Sturridge has been a recurring topic of conversation, at least for supporters and for some corners of the press, ever since his appointment in October of last year. Spells of unavailability due to injury have not made it easy for Klopp to take a long look at Sturridge in the side, and when the striker has been available, the noises in the echo chamber have focused on either Sturridge's purported dissatisfaction on being substituted or on Klopp's seeming willingness to play alternative cards on the biggest of occasions.
These whisperings all revolve around the central question of whether or not Sturridge can find a place within a Klopp-managed side. Certain critics have, rather myopically, suggested that Sturridge is unlikely to harry the opposition with the same maniacal intensity that Luis Suarez used to summon, or that he will not elevate the play of those around him (again using the 2013-14 iteration of Suarez as a benchmark).
Sturridge's performance against Stoke, and more importantly his manager's post-match assessment, should go a long way towards putting some of those questions to rest. Casual observers, caught up in the excitement of Moreno's thunderbolt or Origi's progression, may have missed the finer elements of Sturridge's work, but Klopp took pains to correct this.
It’s normal that you speak about Divock Origi after a game like this, but today I want to speak about Daniel Sturridge because he worked really hard and got a brilliant goal. He was throughout the whole game, but especially in the first half he was so important. He kept Ojo in the game when he spoke to him on the pitch and told him ‘come on, stay positive’ and things like this.
He was defending really smartly. He doesn’t have to defend like Lucas Leiva or someone like this, he has to defend smart by closing space, pushing them to one side and things like this – and that’s what he did. There were a lot more good moments and I am really, really happy with his performance today.
Whether or not the latter half of the 2015-16 season represents the beginning of Sturridge's long goodbye remains to be seen. His injury record, sadly, continues to be a cause for concern - as a not-so-fun exercise, see how many scouting reports of the striker are qualified by the phrase "when fit" - and those concerns may one day force Liverpool's hand into a difficult business decision. What shouldn't be a concern, however, is whether Sturridge has the qualities to excel in a Klopp-era Liverpool side. Klopp thinks so, and so should you.