We saw the two sides of Daniel Sturridge on Tuesday. The sublime talent capable of scoring two goals in a derby and the developing player who blasted his hat-trick penalty over the bar.
The committed self-belief of a footballer desperate for more and the selfish response of a scorned 24-year-old. If you are a Liverpool fan, however, Sturridge is a wonderful problem to have.
The petulant streak underlines the talent. Lionel Messi aside, the best attacking players have that swagger. You need to be a show-off to want to excel as a goalscorer; to be adored as a match-winner and a hero.
You have to be ruthless and driven, too. Strikers might bleat on about team success but it’s only to fill their own trophy cabinets: it’s the individual milestones — the goals and assists — that keep these egotists motivated.
And there is nothing wrong with that. Just look how quick Sturridge was to post on Twitter a picture of his man-of-the-match award. Some players are quietly determined, while others prefer to shout about it. Sturridge is an intriguing mix of both. He seems to think this is the way he must behave to be noticed, to form half of a strike partnership with a player as prodigious as Luis Suarez.
At times, given Sturridge’s deep faith, supportive family background, swift apologies and constant claims to be ‘smiling inside’, his petulant displays feel like an effort to convince himself of his ability. Steven Gerrard has admitted laughing at Sturridge choreographing his goal celebrations at training, but this shows there is an endearingly youthful naivety and desire to succeed behind this smokescreen of self-belief.
Sturridge has had a phenomenal calendar year for Liverpool, scoring 22 goals in 30 appearances, but he is a work in progress, admitting he has been working on improving his heading.
The arrogant, selfish tag, however, has still not shifted and he looked ungrateful when he argued with Rodgers.
The challenge for Sturridge now is to contain that petulant streak and channel it into becoming an even better player. Rodgers will help, by letting his striker know exactly what is and is not acceptable, just as he did on Tuesday.
Sturridge may need to play angry, to strut and show off like many is a way to stay classy and aloof at the same time. – Daily Mail