Sturridge still helps team even when he doesn't score, insists Reds boss Klopp
Published 22/04/2016 | 16:06
Daniel Sturridge may be Liverpool's only fit striker, but manager Jurgen Klopp does not expect him to carry the goalscoring burden alone.
The England international has three goals in his last four matches and his strike in Wednesday's Merseyside derby took him to 50 for the club in just 87 matches.
That is the fourth quickest in the club's history in the post-war era, beating the likes of Luis Suarez, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen.
With Divock Origi out for at least a few weeks with ankle ligament problems - Klopp refused to rule him out for the rest of the season - the responsibility falls on Sturridge.
When he does not score the 26-year-old often attracts criticism for his overall performance, but Klopp insisted that was not justified.
"I think most of the time this side of the table (the media) are not interested in performance," he said.
"If someone scored four goals would you say, 'Ah, but between these four goals he didn't play too well?' I don't think anyone wrote this ever in his life.
"Of course the first job of a striker is to score goals, but you cannot score in each game.
"Even Gerd Muller, the most famous and best German striker we ever had, scored something like 600, but there were a few games where he didn't score.
"Of course you have to work, but it is not about defending like I don't know what.
"It is about smart behaviour in the right position, closing gaps. That is not too difficult and the game is 95 minutes, so you need to be in the game for this to help the team all the time.
"Daniel has scored goals in the last few games and he had some more wonderful moments when he was a real threat to other teams.
"At Bournemouth (last Sunday) things were really outstanding, so he is able to create his own moments, he doesn't always need an assist so that is good.
"When Daniel was fit I was always happy with his performance. I am not interested in public opinions."
Klopp has to decide whether to start with Sturridge for the visit of Newcastle, and the return of Liverpool's Champions League-winning manager Rafael Benitez, on Saturday or pick the higher-energy Roberto Firmino as nominal centre-forward.
Klopp's preference for an all-action front man saw Origi emerge as his first choice over the last month, but ankle ligament damage in the win over Everton has put paid to that.
"It is serious, but we will try everything," said Klopp of the Belgium international's injury.
"The season is not over, without taking any risk for the player.
"I am long enough in this to know we are all different, all individuals.
"A long time ago I had an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament injury) and I played after four months. No-one could believe it worked, but I never had a problem.
"Why should we say now the season is over when we still believe there can be a few games?"
The return of Benitez, his second as an opposing manager after his previous spell as interim Chelsea boss in 2013, is expected to be warmly welcomed by Anfield.
Klopp is familiar with the situation, having made his return to former club Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League earlier this month, and has no issue with fans celebrating the occasion.
"I really like Rafa, we have met a few times," said the German.
"From my point of view, if someone wants to celebrate Rafa Benitez in memory of Istanbul or whatever - he is one of the most successful managers at Liverpool - they are very welcome.
"I don't care about that. If they want, do. Be louder than you have ever been, that is absolutely okay.
"That is how I would say hello to a good old friend, so no-one has to ignore this wonderful moment because I am here now.
"Do what you feel and if it is very good, show it."