The 44-year-old was the one who brought Sturridge from Chelsea in 2013 and partnered the Birmingham-born hitman with Luis Suarez up front. The duo developed a near telepathic partnership that got them firing on all cylinders. They were a dream to play with and a nightmare to play against.
Even after the departure of Suarez to Barcelona, Sturridge was still reaping up good name but series of injuries and dip in form derailed his career.
Since Jurgen Klopp took charge last term, the 27-year-old has fallen down the pecking order. He has only racked up 5 league starts and finding the back of the net twice this season. The England international has been accused of lacking the drive to force his way back into the German’s blueprint.
However, Rodgers feels that Sturridge needs to step up and prove that there is more to his game than his goal scoring ability. Willingness to surge up and down the pitch and switching across the attacking trident are passable points for Klopp and the under-fire striker is often not on the same wavelength. Either he drops too deep in search of the ball or pins around the final third when there is a clamour for defensive duties.
Rodgers expressed to talkSPORT’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast:
“There is no doubting his goalscoring ability but a number nine in the modern game now has to give more than that.
“Daniel will always get goals, he has that quality, but it’s about trying to fit it into the way your team works.
“That wasn’t easy to do when I was at Liverpool. We always had to find a way to fit him in the team.
“There was always a conundrum there because you want to be aggressive and press the game and there are certain areas of the pitch where you always have to look – if Daniel is in the team – where you can and can’t press.”
On the flipside, if Sturridge manages to find his scoring boots yet again, he could turn fortunes around for the Merseyside club. He has the ability to squeeze shots with his powerful left foot in tight pockets, and change direction with the ball at his feet, leaving defenders to play catch up, certainly a trademark of his game.
“I brought him into the club because I wanted to build a team that was fast, dynamic, unpredictable, had power and pace and Daniel gave us all of that.
“He joined us in the January and for the next 18 months he was incredible.
“He has the talent to be one of the best players and strikers in the world, but the best players in the world are available.
“You look at Suarez, Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo – they play games.
“They are churning out 50, 60 games a season, plus international games, so you have to be available.
“If he is available and he is fighting and pressing and running, everything else comes natural to him.”
The struggle with himself and also the entire team at the moment is they can’t break down opponents who are happy to sit deep and frustrate them, despite being superior in possession and attempts. Sturridge failed to make an impact when Sadio Mane was absent due to the Africa Cup of Nations and with the Senegalese winger returning this weekend, Sturridge might need to adapt a bench role regularly once again. In addition, with the Reds being knocked out of two cup competitions in the space of eight days, he may have to bid for time even longer to gain minutes.
On the other hand, a number of clubs are keen to relieve him from his Anfield nightmare in the summer if he remains underutilised by the former Borussia Dortmund boss.