Sunday, 3 February 2013

Daniel Sturridge: Early Promise Could Be A False Dawn

Daniel Andre Sturridge has played for Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Three of the biggest clubs in  England, most players would die for a chance at just one.
 At just 23, Sturridge has won almost everything there is to win. He has represented England at every age group and played for the GB Olympic team this summer. In spite of all this his career, short that it might be, has been described as not living up to its promise.
The reason for this is frustrating inconsistencies. He has shown glimpses of what he is capable of but never produced consistently, irking even the most patient fan. Liverpool is seen as a last chance saloon for him by many.
It would be stupid to write Sturridge off as he clearly has a lot to offer for Liverpool and England. He has pace, power and can run at players. He can also score goals and has done this since he has been able to kick a ball. The hype around him began when he led City to the FA youth cup final in 2006, he scored 4 goals on the route to the final and scored two more in the two-legged final but City still went down to Sturridge's current club Liverpool 3-2 on aggregate.
City soon recognised the talent they had at their disposal and Sturridge was part of the first-team squad for the 2006-07 season but Sturridge was left disappointed as a hip injury ruled him out for the remainder of 2007.
Sturridge's career then stalled at City. He struggled to break back into to the first-team squad and started playing for the youth team again. It was only a minor setback though, 2008-09 saw Sturridge become a regular feature of the Mark Hughes' City side. He played 26 times, scoring for four league goals.
Sturridge signs for Chelsea aged 20

However, that summer Sturridge decided against renewing his contract and joined Chelsea who were now being managed by Carlo Ancelotti. His chances were limited but when he was given a chance in the FA cup he showed flashes of potential. The kind which had people saying that the £3.5 million that Chelsea were ordered to pay Manchester City from a tribunal was a steal. Sturridge was Chelsea's leading scorer with four goals as they went on to win the 2010 FA cup. His first major honour.
Sturridge gets his first taste of silverware
The 2010-11 season was the same old story for the Birmingham born Sturridge. His chances were again limited and he spent most of his time keeping Chelsea's bench warm rather than making an impact on the pitch. There was still flashes of brilliance from the young man. He scored another two FA cup goals and his first Champions League goal against Zilina.
Sturridge had finally grown tired of his lack of opportunities at Chelsea and on deadline day in the 2011 January window he was part of the flock of strikers which moved clubs albeit only on loan to Bolton Wanderers.
Sturridge now for the first time in his career had a real point to prove. Doubters were starting to creep into his game. Questions were starting to being asked about him. Was he the real deal? Was he another over hyped English player? Can he do it consistently in the Premier League? His loan spell at Bolton answered all these questions and more.
He came off the bench to make his debut against Wolves and went on the score an injury time winner. The fans were already onside. He scored in his next three games against Spurs, Everton and Newcastle to become only the sixth player to score in his first four Premier League games for a club. He had a point to prove and he proved it.
Sturridge makes the perfect start to his loan move at Bolton.
Sturridge scored 8 goals in his 12 games for Bolton but his time there was marred when he was sent off against his old club Manchester City on the final day of the season. Despite this many thought he went to Bolton as a boy and returned to Chelsea as a man.
Sturridge returned to Chelsea with a new manager in tow. Andre Villas-Boas. Villas-Boas was a big fan of Sturridge comparing him to the highly rated Hulk and stating that Sturridge would be in the starting team if he had not been carrying over a suspension from last season. Sturridge had scored 9 goals by December and was in great form. He was a settled member of the team. That was the problem.
The drive and motivation had dropped and so had Sturridge's performance  He had shown everyone what he could do. His work rate also dropped he appeared to be lazy and selfish. He found his way back on to the Chelsea bench, his second home. Chelsea's form also dropped which led to Villas-Boas being sacked.
Di Matteo didn't rate Sturridge as highly as Villas-Boas and he wasn't a big part to Chelsea's late season success  He only scored 2 more league goals after December and when he did play he appeared moody and to be in a sulk.
2012-13 came around and Sturridge seemed to go even further down in Di Matteo's estimations. His game time was minimal despite he being one of Chelsea's only two strikers. He was handed a start in Di Matteo's last premier league game in charge at West Brom. A game which Chelsea lost 2-1 and he failed to impress to say the least. Sturridge was not seen again in a Chelsea shirt.
Sturridge throws his toys out of the pram after another poor game for Chelsea.
Liverpool came in for the want away and he mustn't have believe his luck. To have the opportunity to play for another big club despite being widely seen as someone who hadn't lived up to their billing at the other two  makes him a luck, lucky boy.
This is Sturridge's last chance to show himself on a big stage. He wont get another move like this if he continues to put in mediocre performances and deciding when he wants to put a shift in for the team. He has made an excellent start to his Liverpool career. Jamie Redknapp was today lauding him as England's second best striker behind Wayne Rooney. I'm not so sure about that, Jamie.
The 23-year-old has definitely got the Liverpool fans onside early like he did at Bolton because he had a point to prove and people to prove wrong but what happens when he doesn't have a point to prove? Will he disappear off the radar again?
I never doubted that Sturridge would start his Liverpool career like a house on fire. The thing that I worry about is will he be able to maintain the high standards he has set early on. If he can then he will have finally proved his point that he has been carrying around with him for his whole career and eventually prove the doubters wrong.

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