Aldo: Sturridge must do more to seal spot in Klopp's team
TWO big names emerged from last Monday night’s miserable 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Man United with big worries – and the first of those was Daniel Sturridge.
I am a fan of Sturridge and there is no doubt that he is a top-class striker when he is on top of his game, but he doesn’t seem to be in that frame of mind right now and was an unused substitute over the weekend.
Whether it is his persistent injury problems or a dip in confidence, it is hard to dispute that Liverpool’s forward line looks better in matches against top opposition when Sturridge is not a part of it.
His scoring record confirms that this is a striker who deserves to be respected, yet it has been clear for some time that Jurgen Klopp is not convinced that his team is at its best when Daniel starts.
The front four of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana have proved themselves to be a real handful in games against Arsenal and Chelsea this season and we saw evidence in the last campaign that those quick-footed, hard-working forwards are hard to handle.
While Sturridge is not afraid to track back and put in a shift, he doesn’t quite have the same qualities of Klopp’s first-choice attacking quartet.
While I’m not yet in the camp writing Sturridge off as a Liverpool player, there are big doubts over his future.
You look back at Sturridge returning from injury problems in recent years and the moment he was back on the field, he reminded us all what a class act he was with a couple of brilliant goals.
Well, that kind of impact is not there at this moment in time and we could see the positive impact his removal from the game against United had on the team.
Lallana came on with 30 minutes left to play and instantly Liverpool looked better balanced and more threatening against United’s incredibly negative approach.
Sturridge must suspect that he faces a long wait to play in a game of that magnitude again, because it is hard to argue with the view that he is most useful as a super-sub right now.
Of course, Sturridge will not be happy to be demoted to a role as a back-up player and if that was to persist over the course of this season, his time at Liverpool would probably come to an end next summer.
There is still time for Sturridge to convince Klopp that he can fit into his set-up and the only way he can make his mark is by scoring goals… and lots of them.
Sturridge probably needs to score 20 Premier League goals this season and if he can get to that total, then Klopp will put him into his team.
I suspect Sturridge will struggle to get to that total, but what a great option for Liverpool to have on the bench if they need a goal late on.
The Sturridge debate will rumble on for a few months and so will the reflections on Man United’s performance and the tactics they deployed as they got the 0-0 draw they wanted at Anfield.
This is where I get to the second big name who is under the spotlight after the 0-0 snoozefest: United manager Jose Mourinho.
I’m the last person you would pick to speculate on whether United fans are happy with the style of football their team are producing, yet I’d be surprised if too many of them had a warm glow in their hearts as they saw their team Mourinho-ised last Monday.
This guy is brilliant at ruining a football match and this was not the first time – and it won’t be the last – he displayed his ability to take the sting out of a game and stop the opposition from playing.
The question United fans have to consider is whether they want their club to be associated with the kind of performance the world witnessed against
Mourinho was clearly scared of the attacking talents in Klopp’s side and set out to stop them at all costs, which meant his team barely had a shot on goal for the whole game before appearing to be happy with a point in what became an inevitable 0-0 stalemate.
I don’t remember David Moyes’s Man United team playing like that against Liverpool at Anfield and Louis van Gaal’s side won twice at Anfield over the last couple of years with a brand of football that befitted a massive club like United.
Now they have been taken over by a manager who will do things his own way and from what I saw of his United team at Anfield, they have a hell of a long way to go before they are competitive at the top of the Premier League.
When I saw them signing Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a few more big names last summer, I suspected Mourinho and United would be right in the mix to win the title.
Now I’m not so sure and at this moment I wouldn’t put too much money on United finishing in the top four.
These are early days in the campaign – and you tend to change your opinion every week as teams settle down after a summer of changes at so many of the top clubs – but
I wonder just how long Mourinho needs to get United moving forward.
The other issue for me with Mourinho is that he looks miserable on the touchline and doesn’t seem to be getting any enjoyment out of his work any more.
That kind of attitude can rub off on players and as we saw at Chelsea last season, a fed up manager can quickly lead to a set of fed up players.
I’m not sure United’s hierarchy will be too happy if they see many more performances like the one we witnessed against Liverpool and what happens if Mourinho fails to finish ahead of Man City, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal?
Thankfully, these are not questions afflicting my old club right now and the only concrete conclusion we can draw from the last few days is that United and their manager are more than a little worried about the threat Liverpool will pose to them this season.