Another injury to Daniel Sturridge has sparked an all-too-familiar cycle of ridicule and mockery from within the Liverpool fan base. But as LFC Transfer Room’s Graeme Wilkinson (@graeme_wilko) notes, the English striker has done far more for the club than many are willing to give him credit for.
The invention of Twitter has completely changed the modern day football fan. There is far more anger, vitriol and cynicism these days than I have ever known, and it saddens me to say that an awful lot of it seems to come from ‘fans’ of our great football club.
Being a season ticket holder in The Kop from the tender age of six, I was introduced to a number of words that most don’t hear until they reach a much more mature point of their lives. At that age, I was amazed at how angry grown men got over the game of football, however one thing I noticed is that it was very rarely directed at anyone sporting a red shirt. The referee was one thing, the Cockneys were another thing, and the Mancs were something entirely on their own.
Both in and out of Anfield, there always seemed to be a sense of unity amongst our fans. Yes, there was the odd disagreement, but it was nothing that couldn’t be resolved over a cold pint of beer in the pub or a carton of juice on the school playground. These days, however, things are much different.
It is a daily occurrence that our manager, owners or one of our players seems to be pelted with abuse and ridicule online, and the fact that our own ‘fans’ are the ones doing this is ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I criticise decisions/performances etc; however, when our own players and their families are being threatened it crosses the line.
I’m not entirely sure if these ‘anti-Liverpool’ Liverpool fans have been created by Twitter, or whether they have always been there and Twitter has simply given them the platform to air their views. I can, however, honestly say I’ve never met one in person in all of my 30 years of existence.
The man currently at the brunt of ridicule from ‘LFC Twitter’ is a man who for me does not deserve this whatsoever: Daniel Sturridge.
Sturridge joined West Bromwich Albion on loan at the end of the January transfer window in the hope of gaining much needed match fitness ahead of the upcoming World Cup; however, in only his second start for the Baggies, his injury curse appears to have struck again.
In the second minute of the game, Sturridge clearly felt something go in his hamstring, and was subsequently withdrawn from the game only a minute later. Cue the ridicule.
Sturridge heat map against Chelsea. pic.twitter.com/2tgOvlAZN1
— AnfieldUrchin (@AnfieldUrchin) February 12, 2018
And those are only a couple of examples. Verified football accounts ridicule Sturridge’s injury record, and I totally expect that, but I’m not hugely keen on our fans joining in. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but surely as fans we should be saddened when one of our players picks up an injury, rather than finding it nothing more than a standing joke.
The Goalscoring Record
Sturridge joined joined Liverpool from Chelsea for a fee of around £12m at the start of January 2013, and fast became known as one of the Premier League’s leading marksmen. In his first one and a half seasons at the club, Sturridge played on 43 occasions (a total of 3,370 minutes) scoring 31 goals and claiming 10 assists at a rate of one goal involvement every 82 minutes (whoscored.com).
“Studge” was a key component in the Liverpool team that came within a hair’s breadth of winning the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers in 2013-14, and we became used to seeing his trademark ‘wriggly arms dance’ whenever he hit the back of the net.
Unfortunately, in the seasons that followed, Sturridge did not appear for the Reds as much as either him or us would have liked. The stats show that since the end of 2013-14, the Birmingham-born striker has appeared for Liverpool on a further 70 occasions, scoring 21 goals and assisting a further 7 goals (whoscored.com).
While this may not look hugely impressive, appearance statistics have a habit of being a little misleading. The above stats would show that Sturridge only contributed to a goal once every 2.3 games following the 2013-14 season, however they do not take into account the number of substitute appearances he made in this time. In fact, in those 70 appearances, Sturridge only accumulated 3,689 minutes of football (which equates to just short of 41 ninety-minute matches).
Now tell me, is 21 goals and 7 assists in 40 appearances the record of a poor striker?
Sturridge’s attitude has been questioned on numerous occasions by fans, pundits and ex-Liverpool players alike. In the past couple of years, both Graeme Souness and David Fairclough have taken exception to Sturridge’s attitude and desire to be on the football pitch, and despite never playing football at the highest level, I believe their opinion is a little on the harsh side.
A professional footballer does not typically have a long career. With an injury record like Sturridge’s, you could forgive him for believing that he is one or two injuries away from the end of his football career, even at the relatively young age of 28. One of Sturridge’s key assets when he joined Liverpool was his ability to inject a burst of pace over a short distance, and over the last couple of years he seems to have lost half a yard.
While Sturridge is one of the top earners on Liverpool’s wage bill, you have to think before accusing him of not wanting to be on the pitch. Since he has been at the club, he has always played with a smile on his face and I feel that he genuinely loves Liverpool. He has never shied away from the fans, always been on hand to sign autographs and take photos, and generally behaved like one of our own. I have met him myself, and he is honestly one of the most humble, down to earth guys you’ll ever come across.
Sturridge also recognises his roots, and charity has always been a massive part of his life. In 2014 he created The Daniel Sturridge Foundation, a charity which raises funds for under privileged children in both England and the country of his ancestry, Jamaica.
He also donated free matchday tickets to a Merseyside charity in February 2017, and a lot of his good work seems to disappear under the radar of fans who accuse him of milking the club for what he can get.
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) February 11, 2017
Life After Liverpool
While it looks like the door is closing on Sturridge’s Liverpool career, it is worth fondly remembering what he has done for the club and the community.
In his time at the club, Sturridge has scored over 50 goals, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, and has always given his all for the famous red shirt. For this reason I will always look back on his time at the club with nothing but positivity, and will continue to wish him all the best for the future, wherever it may take him. If anything, I hope Daniel regains his fitness and goes on to prove his many doubters wrong by finishing his career strongly.
If you do have any negative thoughts about Sturridge, I encourage you to think and reconsider. Don’t judge the guy based on a history of unfortunate injuries, judge him based on what he’s done for the club we all love.