Liverpool should be wary of Sturridge's Suarez-like impulsive streak too
by Bradley King
Apr 22, 2013 12:52 PM EDT
A quick perusal of the newspaper back pages, television headlines and social media feeds this morning reveal that sportswriters across the country, and indeed the world, are today only interested in one subject - Luis Suarez. But has the ferocity of his gnashers on Sunday afternoon deflected the attention away from another of Liverpool's bad boys?
There are many statements which one can make about Suarez. One of the more family-friendly, universal views is that he's a frustrating footballer. His ability to squirm between cumbersome defenders with ease makes him a genuine joy to watch, but that brilliance is often counteracted by a less-than-convincing composure in front of goal.
But whatever his sporting shortcomings, they are nothing compared to his tendency to self-implode; whether that manifest itself as a racial slur or a bite to the upper arm. Consequently, many perceive the Uruguayan to be a liability to the Reds - an institution literally idolised by millions across the globe.
Suarez has bitten off more than he can chew this time. He's been punished by the club - rightly so - and will feel the full force of the Football Association's wrath, with a lengthy ban expected. But Brendan Rodgers would do well to pull aside his strike partner Daniel Sturridge for a chat too.
Sturridge supplied the cross from which Suarez headed in a last-gasp equaliser against Chelsea on Sunday, and was generally accredited with helping to catalyse Liverpool's second half performance.
Scorer of a goal soon after emerging as a substitute at half-time, the ex-Blues man refused to celebrate it in an apparent show of respect to his former employers. It was a strange gesture as Sturridge was widely unpopular at Stamford Bridge and left the club for Anfield in less than amiable circumstances.
Nonetheless, choosing not to celebrate is his prerogative. But his actions over the next half an hour completely annulled any previous attempt at a supposedly classy tribute to times passed, and instead hinted at his own impulsive persona.
Chelsea won a penalty kick soon after Sturridge's goal, giving Eden Hazard the opportunity to put his side back in front. Instead of allowing the Belgian playmaker to steady himself, Sturridge went out of his way to distract Hazard.
It happens all the time - ungentlemanly conduct - but it's odd for a player apparently indebted to his former employers to engage in it. Just a few minutes before, he turned down the chance to cheer after the most joyous act in his profession - scoring a goal. How has his opinion shifted so dramatically? Would you catch Didier Drogba, for example, trying to put him off before that spot kick?
But then came his worst sin. After overrunning the ball later in the game, Sturridge dangled his foot over the shin of Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand in a malicious, cowardly challenge which shook the defender. He wasn't even booked and showed no remorse. Is that respect for former employers and team mates?
Sturridge, like Suarez, is partial to controversy. These are the players that make it up as they go along; they're mavericks and they're loose cannons. They're not thinkers, they are doers.
Sure, they're the players that can win a match for your club all by themselves, which makes them extremely valuable. But they can also lose it by themselves. Or bite off arms at random.
The key to controlling them is good management and Brendan Rodgers certainly has his hands full. Rather than focusing on scorning Suarez, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Reds manager had a quiet word with Sturridge this morning too. Liverpool will hope that recruiting the England international isn't a decision that comes back to bite them.