Thursday 22 February 2018

Ronnie Whelan: Jurgen Klopp needs to forget about Daniel Sturridge - he can't be relied on

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge
Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

DANIEL Sturridge did Liverpool a favour when he finally showed up to play against West Ham and scored.

From the club’s point of view, the goal proved he can still do it and that will have been noted by several clubs, including West Ham who were on the wrong end of a hammering.

For Jurgen Klopp, the goal simply underlined what he has been missing during the last two seasons. If Sturridge could be relied on to do that every week, end of story.

But he can’t be relied upon to get out on a training pitch, never mind play a consistent run of games, and Klopp needs more than that.

Some might argue that Klopp has been patient and careful and will now reap the benefits for his approach to a fragile player.

And there is the possibility that if Sturridge leaves and starts scoring for fun at his new club everyone will have cause for regret, but I think we have passed that point.

The victory over West Ham placed Liverpool within one win of the Champions League next season and if I think back nine months, that was the target I thought the team should be shooting for.

So by that reckoning, this will have been a good season for Klopp and his players if they can put relegated Middlesbrough away at Anfield.

The problem, of course, is that Liverpool have come unstuck so often against teams like Middlesbrough that everyone will be nervous about this game.

The big culprit when Liverpool leaked points against mid-table and lower teams was a glaring inability to shut a game down.

New talent is needed and will be welcomed but they will be wasted if Klopp doesn’t focus hard on this weakness in pre-season and sort it out.

It is surprising that Klopp has taken so long to absorb the message of his own eyes.

Cast your mind back to Bournemouth in early December and a truly depressing 4-3 defeat after Liverpool had a 3-1 lead.

That crystallised the issue for everyone and yet Klopp still didn’t seem to get it.

Full-backs poured forward against Bournemouth following Klopp’s front-foot mantra and Liverpool lost goals like naive park footballers.

I’ve been thinking about this and wondering how such a successful coach managed in the Bundesliga, without working out a way to hold a lead.

Perhaps the lower teams were not as good or as difficult as the Premier League but it does seem like a big gap in knowledge.

He shares that with Pep Guardiola, who also seemed to think that he could make the Premier League submit to his way but quickly found out that English football is a mincer, which requires flexibility.

As I’ve said many times, better quality players should make a difference and the question for Klopp is how much money he will get to spend. From what I’m hearing around the club, I don’t think cash will be an issue.

Herald Sport

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport