Ever since his Manchester City youth days Daniel Sturridge has had the potential to play international football. Now, having blossomed into a regular starter at Chelsea and facing a dearth of other contenders to partner Rooney, it's time Sturridge was unleashed for England.
Top of the list on my annual letter to Father Christmas this year is the much-anticipated tome ‘Life Is Good – Fabio’s Guide To Falling Into A Bucket Of Muck And Coming Out Smelling Of Roses’. It’s a must-read, providing an invaluable insight into the craggy faced bugger’s charmed life. And a charmed life it must be, because if he’s got 5 English strikers more deserving of an England place than Daniel Sturridge right now, he’s luckier than the Victoria’s Secret employee who gets to fit Holly Willoughby’s bras for her. Now my ire has died down a little, here’s my 5 reasons why Daniel Sturridge has to be in the England team, never mind the squad:
He’s one of the best English striker’s out there right now
I like stating the obvious but that’s the main reason he should be in the team. I’m not going to compare him directly to other players just yet (more of that later) but, suffice it to say, Sturridge is a real class act. I saw enough of him in a Bolton shirt last season to suitably inform that judgement and it’s pleasing to see that he’s getting his chance at Chelsea. He’s the best striker at one of the most feared teams in the Premiership (based on current form which, coincidentally, is supposedly a principal criteria of Capello when it comes to player selection) and that should be enough to get him into the squad at the very least.
Play him up top; drop him a little deeper; shift him to the flanks. He’s shown he can cope admirably when fulfilling any of those roles. His pace aligns perfectly to wing-work. His close-control and trickery prove effective when dropping deep and directly confronting centre-halves. The sublime quality of his finishing is apparent when he plays as an out-and-out striker. Multiple attributes are invaluable in the modern international game, where limited-number squads dictate that versatility is a pre-requisite for many players.
Confidence just bordering on arrogance
Sturridge treads this line perfectly. A cursory glance confirms that he is supremely confident – anyone can see that. But it stops just short of tipping over into arrogance which, to my mind, is the perfect balance. Professional footballers, musicians, actors – many of the stand-out examples in these fields have supreme self-confidence. When dovetailed with natural ability, it becomes a potent force. That is certainly the case with Sturridge. He is passionate too – witness his attempts at whipping the Reebok crowd into a frenzy on numerous occasions last year. It’s refreshing to see players who still actually care about the game. He’ll be proud to play for the national team, in much the same way as another of our best young players, Jack Wilshere, is. Another BWFC link there but it’s justified – I was embroiled in a heated debate over the summer when I stated that Wilshere is the most important midfielder England have, but I’ll save that particular vignette for another ST day.
A front two of Rooney and Sturridge? Now that’s a partnership that has a little bit of everything. Pace, power, confidence, versatility, drive, never-say-die attitude and God-given brilliance on both counts.
He has class and dignity
The main reason for the inclusion of this criteria is his reaction to the first of his two goals last Sunday. Primed to celebrate, he suddenly realised that he was in a place where he was idolised for 5 months earlier this year; a place he surely recognises as having been crucial in his recent development. Whether showing respect to Owen Coyle, the BWFC players, the home fans or all 3, his restraint and respect endeared him to us even more. No Adebayor-esque histrionics here, thankfully. Sturridge has a little more class than that.
He’s better than some of the other selections
For obvious reasons I’m not comparing him to Rooney and Carroll, who are markedly different to Sturridge. But is Danny Welbeck a better option? Of course not. I don’t want this to turn into a Welbeck bashing article (though the Man Utd fans out there will undoubtedly take this comment and attempt to garrotte me with it) but Sturridge is a much better player. Welbeck has considerable promise but he should be way behind Sturridge in the pecking order. And Darren Bent? Undoubtedly a great player but he hasn’t looked the same at Villa since Young and Downing left. I’ve never agreed with much of the criticism levelled his way over the years (hugely unjust at times) but, again, I’d have Sturridge ahead of him every time. Bent doesn’t look confident at the moment – see earlier comments to realise why this is such a key issue. And Bobby Zamora? He brings something a little different to the table but is too inconsistent for me and strikes me as a Capello indulgence selection, by which I mean he often selects players to prove that he dips into the perceived smaller clubs every now and again. That’s why Zamora is in there. And I expect that observation will be seized upon by those willing to add Gary Cahill to the same group but that’s different in as much as Cahill fully deserves his place.
A playground-esque summary
Eschewing any attempts at literary greatness, here’s a very simple premise for you all to ponder. A front two of Rooney and Sturridge? Now that’s a partnership that has a little bit of everything. Pace, power, confidence, versatility, drive, never-say-die attitude and God-given brilliance on both counts. Works perfectly for me. Will work perfectly for England. I know you read Sabotage Times Mr Capello - I’ve seen your order for the Noel Gallagher Adidas trainers and I know the alias you use when replying to the ‘OAPs you definitely would’ article. So when you select your next England squad, please ditch the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey approach and bear this in mind. Thanks ever so much. Michael Green. Aged 37 ¾
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