Daniel Sturridge’s excellent start to life at Liverpool doesn’t exactly come as a surprise as he is a player who has shown the potential he has at a host of Premier League clubs in the past. However one thing he has struggled to do is turn this potential into consistent quality for a number of reasons, however I think that Anfield could be the perfect stage for him to flourish.
Still only 23-years-old, Sturridge started his career at Aston Villa, with spells at Coventry and Manchester City making up the rest of his youth career. After breaking into the City first team set up, he was never really able to establish a place in the side with his rise to prominence coinciding with the clubs big money revolution. If reports are true then he may have also been ill advised and in demand of higher wages to match some of his fellow teammates, the kind of immaturity that should have now passed him.
He was a victim of a new mentality at the club who were looking for instant success and provided limited first team opportunities for the likes of himself and Stephen Ireland to continue their development. It was Chelsea who gave him a way out when his contract at City expired, but a loan spell at Bolton in 2011 is when Sturridge really made people sit up and take notice. Upon his return to the Londoners he was shown great faith by Andre-Villas Boas who was in charge at the time, however again due to several factors from AVB’s sacking to playing out of position, he lost his way.
Now this is just an observation, but Sturridge comes across to me as one of those players who sometimes needs an arm around his shoulder and thrives off feeling wanted. Brendan Rodgers has given him this vote of confidence by paying a substantial transfer fee for a player that is still relatively unproven. He has also given him the backing of using him in his preferred central striker position, despite the excellent season Luis Suarez has had playing this role by himself.
At Liverpool he is joining at the perfect time, both in the clubs progression and in his own maturity as a player. The Reds are in a transitional period while putting an emphasis on young talent, with a view to building a successful team for the future. Unlike Chelsea and Manchester City, it also looks like they are willing to be patient and allow Rodgers time to bring the glory days back to the club.
Sturridge now needs continuity at one place and a chance to develop without disruption, something which I feel he will get at Liverpool. He will also be playing in a team alongside several players in a similar position. The likes of himself, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, and new boy Phillipe Coutinho to name a few, are part of new youthful looking side at Anfield, with more experienced heads such as Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher still around to provide the guidance the younger players will undoubtedly need to aid their progress.
While it’s still early days and is unfair to pile too much pressure on him, his biggest test so far in a Liverpool shirt was the game on Sunday against his former club Manchester City, an examination which he passed with flying colours. Aside from the goal itself, he showed great confidence and intelligence in his play and the ability to produce in the biggest games. He also displayed the benefits of allowing him a regular starting berth in his preferred position. Other than the different threat he offers in behind the defence with his pace, his excellent movement throughout the game caused the City backline plenty of problems. He is now playing alongside one of the best strikers in the league now in the shape of Luis Suarez on a regular basis as well. The two have already formed an understanding, and the Uruguayan can no doubt improve him as a player.
Sturridge’s development at Liverpool could also be good news for the national team in a position where there has been a lack of quality in recent years. After Wayne Rooney, Sturridge is possibly the most naturally gifted striking option available at Hodgson’s disposal and I believe he has the potential to overtake the likes of Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe in the pecking order. Now it is just a question of him showing the focus and maturity to turn himself from a raw talent into the finished article.