Date: 2nd January 2013 at 4:41pm
Written by:

Daniel Sturridge was the nearly man at Chelsea it has to be said.

Bought from Man City in 2009, he showed a decent amount of promise for a young Englishman. Though sadly in his first season (09/10), opportunities for minutes on the pitch were limited, what with the 39-goal season Didier Drogba had along with stellar performances from Malouda and Anelka alongside him.

When Sturridge did manage to get some game time, he didn’t exactly blow any of us away shall we say. It wasn’t until the season after where Danny really showed everyone what he’s capable of. His performances for Chelsea improved in 10/11, however, the same problem persisted, a lack of available game time.

So, Sturridge went to Ancelotti and asked for a January loan, at first the club declined, but after a second request, Studge was off to Bolton to join up with Owen Coyle. And so his career suddenly took off, impressing hugely for his temporary club and receiving much praise from Coyle in the process.

He left Bolton having scored 8 goals in 12 appearances. Suddenly Chelsea were taking notice. During the summer of 2011, there was much talk of where Sturridge would play. On VC, the majority agreed that he had done enough to earn a place in the side, but most were unwilling to drop the likes of Drogba and Torres to find him a place.

New gaffer AVB found a solution however, playing him on the right wing, and although our season soon started to nose-dive with AVB in charge, it’s fair to say that his management of Sturridge worked a charm. He netted 11 goals in the first half of the season alone, including an impressive back-heel against Sunderland on his first app of the season, an equalizer at Spurs, and two against former club Bolton. Not bad for a winger!

Things, as you know, changed in the second half of 11/12. AVB was sacked and Robbie Di Matteo took over, and things started to slow down for Sturridge. It was obvious Di Matteo preferred a more defensive line-up and so played Ramires and Kalou ahead of Danny. We all remember how that season turned out, winning the Champions League and FA Cup, but unfortunately for Sturridge, he wasn’t really part of either triumph.

The following summer arrived and exit talks began to surface. It came to light that Sturridge wanted to play as a centre-forward after the departure of Drogba and was to hold out for an opportunity to challenge for that position. But due to injury and the fact that Torres started the season pretty well, that chance never really came for Sturridge. And there we have it, his Liverpool move was more-or-less sealed after that.

A summary of his career at Chelsea might seem somewhat pointless, but I just want to put everything in perspective for my final two paragraphs. For me, it’s unfortunate that Sturridge didn’t succeed with us. I still think he is a tremendous talent. Yes, we all discussed at length the numerous problems he had with his game, his apparent selfishness, his lack of awareness, his decision making and his inability to track back and defend. But still, there was/is huge potential there.

He has more flair than any other England player for me and hopefully will find a way to make it on the International stage. In the end, the biggest problem he had was deciding what position he wanted to play, in my opinion. He saw himself as an out-and-out striker, but for me he’s far better starting from wide. Not necessarily as a winger per se, but possibly as one of two strikers, starting from wide and coming inside.

His lack of strength and hold-up play makes it near impossible to consider him for the lone-striker position, something he was apparently striving for, while all his attributes point to him playing from wide: Blistering pace, great flair and ability to beat his marker, a great snap shot. For me, it was Sturridge’s inability to realize this, which was his biggest downfall.

But for the people who called him arrogant or petulant or immature really do need a slap. This is a man, a young man, who played, next to no part in the business end of the greatest season in Chelsea’s history. This is a man who was very much in the side and was one of the stars of our team in the first half of 11/12, but come the second half, he resided on the bench. He went from main-man to unused sub. He played no part in either Semi Final against Barcelona, no part in the FA Cup semi-final against Spurs, no part in the FA Cup final against Liverpool and of course, no part against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

He was our top scorer last season, yet wasn’t involved in any of our glorious moments. He missed out on a place at the Euro’s because of his lack of game time under RDM! But did he complain? Feck no! Did he sulk? Feck no! Many of us in his situation would be more than pissed off, but Sturridge gracefully and maturely just got on with things. And I for one respect the hell out of that. He’s not immature, he’s not petulant, he may have an air of arrogance about him on the pitch, but as a person he’s upstanding. I’m sorry it didn’t work out Danny, best of luck to you at Liverpool. Thanks again.