The hectic Christmas and New Year programme may not be ideal if you are a player or a manager however at least it gives teams an quick chance to put right any wrongs that have come to light in previous game. If this is the case we will be hopefully be righting many wrongs at Shepherds Bush on Sunday!
The Stoke game was a disappointing effort which again flew in the face of the optimism created by the Fulham result. Nonetheless we’ve been there before, how many thought we were going to kick on after the West Ham game only to come a cropper against Villa a week later?
We are now entering a key stage of the season. The January window will be upon us soon and BR, having been given some leeway because of the squad, may now be the subject of more scrutiny. His post match comments since he joined haven’t really impressed although after Wednesday at least there was some directness before his usual trip into the realms of incomprehension or irrelevancy. Having talked about our poor defending he went off to well, quite frankly, I don’t know were by saying…
“You have to earn the right to play. We are hoping to find this in the group, otherwise we are never going to progress. We have some big characters but tonight it was too easy. (for Stoke)”
What does BR mean when he talks about the “right” to play? Football isn’t an underground sport like cock fighting or bear or badger baiting! What about just coming out with it and saying that we weren’t good enough in vital areas and just need to play better?
That’s about all that could be said there wasn’t much to take from the game, perhaps we were worried about Stoke’s physicality and the fact that one of our men might take a point blank ball in the head, we’ve enough resource problems without having our players killed! Gerrard, in his more advanced role, got into the game more and Luis Suarez, as ever, worked hard. I might be wrong but things looked to be getting on top of him he was injured and before his runs took on a more desperate air as we went further and further behind. In the last piece I said he looked tired and, despite having done brilliantly to almost single handedly lead our attack, reinforcements can’t come too soon? Which brings me to Daniel Sturridge.
It remains to be seen if Sturridge will be signed. If he is I wonder if this will meet expectations? Is Sturridge the type of signing we had in mind to fill our striking void? It might be hard to take but realistically I guess it is, at twenty three he fits it our transfer policy although the price, reportedly £12m, might raise a few eyebrows. I guess Sturridge has enough experience to just about merit the tag and besides attracting bigger players, whilst we are out of the Champions League, is simply not a realistic policy unless we pay them astronomical wages which the owners have said they are not prepared to do.
What will Sturridge bring? Firstly given our striker situation he should, hopefully provide us with another option to Suarez, I’ll be telling you water is wet next! Like Luis Sturridge has pace which should make defences think a bit more rather than having to channel their attentions onto just one player? Rumours are that Sturridge wants to play centre forward, Suarez’s role, and that it will be a condition of his contract. I don’t think for one minute we countenance such a self centered demand and anyway surely the natural arrangement is for Sturridge to play in that position with Suarez in a more secondary role, perhaps nearer to Gerrard. Suarez is not a target man in any way shape of form but despite that surely he will be the key man we build our attacks around?
One thing however is certain. Sturridge, will be no Hunt, Rush, Fowler or Torres nonetheless the pressure and expectation, will be a great if not greater than it was when those players made their debuts, not because of the player but simply because of the situation we find ourselves in? Because of this alone BR, the owners and the team need him to hit the ground running? I wish him luck, if he signs, he may need it.