Patrick Tracey is yearning for Daniel Sturridge to return to Liverpool’s starting lineup this weekend against West Ham.
So I’ve been sitting here these last few weeks, waiting for someone – anyone – to take advantage of this golden opportunity and grab the striker position by the scruff of the neck and make it his own.
And so far, neither Divock Origi or Daniel Sturridge seems to want to do that.
Origi’s feet seem to be the place where creativity has gone to die: when the ball is fed to him, time slows down and then in what appears to be slow-motion, he tries a Cruyff turn or a step-over move to get by the defender – who never seems to be fooled.
I remembered Origi running circles around Team USA’s defence in the last World Cup and couldn’t wait to see him bring that pace to Anfield. Alas, I’m still waiting.
Sturridge, meanwhile, is recovering from yet another injury – so if he even is available, his manager either doesn’t think he’s in shape to go 90 minutes or the manager simply has no faith in him.
It all takes me back to the movie Caddyshack. Early in the film, Bill Murray’s character, Carl Spackler, is explaining how he jumped ship in Hong Kong and made his way over to Tibet, where he caddied for the Dalai Lama.
Spackler – a pitchfork placed against a young Caddy’s throat – tells the kid, “Do you know what the Lama says? ‘Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga.’ So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know?’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.'”
After last Sunday’s effort versus Southhampton, I watched that movie to get me out of my depression and funk. And whenever I hear that line, “on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness,” I can’t help but think about the two Liverpool strikers and my hope that they never achieve that total consciousness and grasp the opportunity that they’ve squandered at Liverpool.
Liverpool have been celebrating something of a gilded age since Jürgen Klopp arrived. Goals a go-go have been posted without the team having a Diego Costa or Harry Kane or Zlatan Ibrahimović on the roster.
Look at the talent around either striker: can you imagine a diamond formation with a healthy Sturridge or a competent Origi being fed by the likes of Coutinho or Firmino, Can or Wijnaldum? Can’t you envision Mané’s pace making taffy out of the opposing defence, players sliding to try and help out and giving one of the strikers time and space to convert?
Since the injury to Sadio Mané, Jürgen Klopp has opted to start Origi, with tepid (at best) results. Starting with Sunday’s game at West Ham United, it might be time to re-think that strategy.
And to be sure, Sturridge doesn’t lack for confidence. These quotes from the Englishman are a testament to that, “Why am I watching someone else’s glories and achievements? It doesn’t matter to me who comes around or what players are about. It means nothing to me.
“When you watch other people, you don’t get anywhere in life because you are at war with yourself. Well done to Harry Kane and what he has achieved, but I am not watching what he is doing. I just believe in me.”
No, Sturridge doesn’t lack confidence. What Sturridge lacks is showing up for work.
And it would be easy to forget about Sturridge, to simply move on with another striker if it wasn’t for the fact that he’ll occasionally flash those moments of sheer brilliance.
Cue the tape from the Liverpool vs. Watford match, when Sturridge came onto the pitch in the 84th minute. Then at 89:50, after Lucas Leiva lost the ball, Sturridge out-muscled a Watford defender and fired a shot with his right foot and only a brilliant save by Heurelho Gomes prevented what was a certain goal.
“A little reminder of what Sturridge is all about,” was the description from Martin Tyler on that play and it may be the reminder the Liverpool manager needs.
With two games left in the campaign, Daniel Sturridge is the striker that Jürgen Klopp needs to hitch the Liverpool wagon to. Sturridge is the player who poses the biggest threat to the opposing defence. Sturridge is the player that might be able to deliver some magic to help LFC get across the finish line and into Champions League play.
Do I think Klopp should commit to Sturridge for next season, too? No, this is a “one-day-at-a-time” mantra. Let’s just get through these next two contests, qualify for Champions League and then re-evaluate the situation.
If you keep doing what you’ve done, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve got. It’s time for Klopp to replace Origi with Sturridge. Otherwise, I’m afraid that all my fellow Liverpool fans will join me, drowning our sorrows and regret over another lost opportunity, muttering, “Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga” into another empty pint glass.