Saturday 20 January 2018

Liverpool hero warns Daniel Sturridge to get behind Jurgen Klopp or face the consequences

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Daniel Sturridge
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Daniel Sturridge

Tom Rooney

Even at this early stage of the season, it seems that Jurgen Klopp and Daniel Sturridge have embarked on an unstoppable collision course and, according to one Anfield legend, only the German coach will be left standing when the dust has settled.

Let’s be honest, Daniel Sturridge was sporting an almost child-like expression that could easily have soured milk, in the away dugout at White Hart Lane when it became apparent that Divock Origi was being called into action before him.

With 21 minutes to go on Saturday, Liverpool were leading Spurs by 1-0 thanks to James Milner’s first half penalty, and Klopp thought it prudent to send on the Belgian in place of Philippe Coutinho.

When the cameras panned in on Sturridge, it made for a picture far more telling than many thousands of words.

Within three minutes, Danny Rose levelled the tie and, with the final whistle fast approaching, the England striker was deployed as Sadio Mane was called ashore. 

Once again Sturridge was stationed on the right side of a front three, an apparent bugbear of his, and the contest finished with each side taking a point.

Liverpool have not recorded a win since the opening day against Arsenal and now sit in 11th place of the embryonic table.  It would be remiss not to note that Liverpool managed to hit the target with just three of 13 attempts on goal, so availing of their most potent finisher with more haste was hardly an outlandish notion.

John Barnes. (Anesh Debiky/Getty Images)

As has been the case for the much of the last week, Jurgen Klopp was fielding questions regarding Sturridge post match and the manager was decidedly complimentary, but one couldn’t help conclude that an irreparable conflict is afoot.

Sturridge broke ranks when informing the press after a two-goal cameo in the 5-0 win over Burton in the EPL Cup that he prefers to be played in his favoured centre forward position – surely a fact not unapparent to his manager.

Saturday’s sulk, in tandem with Klopp publicly all but telling the former Chelsea man to buck up during an injury spell last term, gives the distinct impression something has to give.

Speaking to Alan Brazil on his breakfast show, legendary Red John Barnes said that there is plenty of recent evidence to show that contemporary Premier League managers will act decisively with players they deem to be surplus to requirements or, indeed, problematic.

Moreover, in the age of managerial stardom, Barnes claimed that the faithful would back their man at the helm.

Daniel Sturridge's reaction to Jurgen Klopp's being on Divock Origi instead of him was caught on camera CREDIT: PREMIER LEAGUE TV

“We have seen with Joe Hart at Manchester with Pep Guardiola that these managers are now flexing their muscles and they are saying, ‘I’m in charge, you do what I say’, because for too long players - and I’m not talking about Daniel necessarily - have got away with ruling the roost in terms of them being more powerful than managers.

“Fans have supported players more than they have supported managers but now with Guardiola, Conte, Mourinho and Klopp at Liverpool, they are in charge and you do have to toe the line,” he said.

It’s no great secret that Klopp is not an advocate of linear offensive formations, and that his preference is for attackers to  switch seamlessly between stations. Intense, relentless pressing is also an imperative.

Thus far this season, and perhaps in response to Sturridge’s proneness to injury, he has not opted for an orthodox striker, with a combination of Origi, Mane and Coutinho flanking Roberto Firmino.

According to Barnes, Klopp is simply reasserting his authority as he seeks to establish a title worthy outfit, and for Sturridge, the only real option is to fall into line.

Or, the 26-year-old might be better served looking for a club willing to accommodate him fully.

"When he (Sturridge) said he didn’t want to play out wide, that may have had an impact. Klopp is now saying, ‘I am in charge, you do what I say, you go on when I say, you warm up when I say’, and players have to accept it.

“He is a fantastic player as we all know but Jurgen Klopp has obviously decided to flex his muscles to let people know I am in charge and what I say goes. That is the right principle to have and it doesn’t matter which player you are, you have to toe the line.

"There is only going to be one winner – and that will be the manager. Daniel may have to change his attitude a little bit to what the manager wants if that situation is going to be resolved."

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