Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA dream start for a man on his “last chance” - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A dream start for a man on his “last chance” - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A dream start for a man on his “last chance”

Brendan Rodgers has shown he’s learnt from the mistakes of the summer transfer window, and within days of the new year, the Northern Irishman signed a new striker to the club. Liverpool may be the biggest club in the world according to the new number 15, but Daniel Sturridge has a lot of pressure on his shoulders.

The 23 year old has had spells at both Manchester City and Chelsea. Yet both are where he’s struggled to prove himself as a world-class striker. It took a loan spell at Bolton to see the best of Sturridge back in 2011, scoring 8 goals in 12 games. In 3 and half years of being a Chelsea player, he never got a run of form in the first team. The stats will read a meagre 13 goals in 63 appearances. But in that spell he wasn’t the manager’s first choice of striker. And Sturridge had 4 managers in his 3 and a half years at Chelsea, but not one of them favoured him as the number one at the club.

But he did have a lot of talent to compete with. No Chelsea fan would pick Sturridge over Didier Drogba. And when your owner has paid £50 million for another striker, the manager (although the owner may be forcing him,) is going to use that supposed top quality talent before Sturridge. Even Nicolas Anelka was in front of the Englishman. Yet Sturridge didn’t help himself when he did get on the pitch. There were complaints that he was greedy, too selfish, and always looked for goal before his teammates.

Both Rafa Benitez and his predecessor Roberto Di Matteo didn’t have a great variety of strikers this season. Sturridge’s main competitor for a first team place was a struggling Spaniard who was still a long way off proving he could match that £50 million price tag. Yet it was Torres that consistently got the nod over the young forward. Clearly out of favour, Brendan Rodgers swooped in, and Sturridge left behind his blues for the red of Liverpool. Despite what some of the striker’s critics say, Rodgers could see Sturridge being a useful piece in his Anfield jigsaw.

However, he joined with a sharp warning from the manager. Told that this was probably his last chance to make it at a top club, Sturridge knew he had to get off the blocks quickly. And he did. It took just 7 minutes in fact, in a FA Cup match against Mansfield Town. Not a glamorous opponent, but a goal is a goal, especially when you’re a striker looking to prove yourself at a new club. But when the Premier League came calling, once again Sturridge was quick to respond. 12 minutes into his Liverpool league debut against Manchester United, the halftime substitute pounced on a mistake by United keeper David De Gea to tap in from close range. Liverpool may not have scored again that game, but the link up between Sturridge and Suarez was enough for Liverpool fans to stay optimistic and satisfied with their new signing. The perfect start to his league career even if the reds didn’t win.

He had made his Liverpool debut, and his League debut for the Merseyside club. But then came the big one. His first start, and his first game in front of the Kop. Norwich were the visitors, observing the pressure of £12 million, matched with the high expectations of Liverpool’s most loyal fans. Partnered upfront with talisman forward Luis Suarez, together they showed an instant understanding previously demonstrated at Old Trafford. The link up play between the two was fantastic, tearing the Norwich defence apart. Suarez scored Liverpool’s second and on paper Lucas will be credited with the assist, but it was Sturridge that created the goal. Lucas passed to Sturridge, who fooled the defenders with a confident dummy to let the ball through to his new Uruguayan teammate who calmly slotted the ball home. Then came the moment he had been waiting for. 15 minutes into the second half, Henderson lofted the ball to the right wing where Downing hit a first time cross on the volley, and there waiting to tap home was Sturridge. His first game at Anfield, his first goal at Anfield. The Kop got a tiny glimpse of the body popping celebration, and will look forward to the idea of seeing it regularly.

A simple tap in is a significant step for Liverpool. On countless times have reds fans been frustrated to see a cross go unopposed, or to see a lack of red shirted players in the opposition’s penalty area. Suarez is a striker who drops off from the defenders, giving himself space to run at them and wiggle his way through. Sturridge is a more traditional striker, pouncing on rebounds and gambling on mistakes. Something that has been missing from the reds line up in years. If he can keep focused on his football, stick to Rodgers’ philosophy of passing the ball and silence his critics’ comments of being greedy, Daniel Sturridge could really make a name for himself in a Liverpool shirt and with time knock on Roy Hodgson’s England door.

Dan Eyre  @Dannye7