It’s a seldom occasion, not to mention a very sad day, when I find myself in agreement with talkSPORT host Adrian Durham. This, after all, is the man who only two weeks ago hailed Joleon Lescott as “a far better defender than John Terry.”
However, whilst the presenter himself never fails to amaze me with his delusional take on the latest football news, the show – which Durham presents alongside former England cricketer Darren Gough – is more often than not a very entertaining listen; even more so of late given the astonishing number of Spurs supporters who frequently call in to proclaim their side as the “English Barcelona.”
If by that, they mean hard not to dislike and misguided of their place within the history books, then I suppose they have a point.
Last week, though, Durham provoked an interesting debate with regards to the future of our very own Daniel Sturridge. According to “talkSPORT sources”, Carlo Ancelotti is on the verge of sending the 21-year-old striker out on loan. Now, I think it’s fair to say that there is very little substance in this particular piece of information, and quite what such a ridiculous move would achieve is anybody’s guess, but if there is even a hint of truth in the rumour, then maybe Carlo really is losing the plot.
Sturridge is, quite simply, a very talented footballer. Of course, there are undoubtedly aspects of his game which need improving – none more so than an over reliance on his left foot – but he is young, hungry and most importantly, English. He has certainly impressed when called upon, and his goals in last season’s successful FA Cup campaign, when he scored in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, proved instrumental in securing Chelsea’s passage to Wembley.
The point is, we should be nurturing his talent, not stifling it. Cameo appearances as a substitute are certainly not the way to get the best out of him, and neither is playing him as a wide man. Particularly in recent weeks, Ancelotti has a habit of throwing Sturridge on for a ten-minute spell in which he is expected to salvage the game for us. It’s unfair, not to mention slightly unrealistic. Ancelotti had the perfect opportunity to play Sturridge through the middle when Didier Drogba was suffering with malaria but chose not to, and it sends out all the wrong signals.
Only a few weeks ago, Newcastle hit-man Andy Carroll made his eagerly-awaited England debut in the farcical defeat against France. This is the same Carroll who only last season was plying his trade in the Championship; the same player who has, on a number of occasions, played alongside Sturridge for the England Under-21s. Whilst the pony-tailed Geordie’s career appears to be going from strength to strength – albeit via the Crown Court – what is happening to Sturridge?
Elsewhere, Danny Welbeck – who is currently on loan at Sunderland from Manchester United – is beginning to flourish playing regularly under the tutelage of Steve Bruce at the Stadium of Light. Welbeck was a constant thorn in Chelsea’s side during the Black Cats’ 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge last month and has since gone from strength to strength. Performing every week has clearly given him the platform to showcase his unquestionable ability and he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. On current form, it won’t be long before a certain Scotsman is on the blower calling him back to play alongside Wayne Rooney.
Ancelotti was eager to eulogise about the wealth of young talent at his disposal earlier in the campaign, but if the likes of McCeachran, Kakuta and Bruma et al really are the future of the club, they are going to need minutes on the pitch. The manager’s reluctance to start Bruma during the aforementioned Sunderland debacle spoke volumes, and with both Malouda and Kalou failing to produce a good performance for over two months, surely now is the time for the likes of Kakuta and Sturridge to be starting games.
Sturridge’s attitude, contrary to what many people believe, has been spot on of late, and the boy is both intelligent and articulate, something which cannot be said of a number of other players of the same age. He won’t, however, put up with being a sparingly used substitute for much longer, and who could blame him?
Playing regularly at his age is imperative, and make no mistake, he will look elsewhere if necessary.
Scott Parker was once deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge, look at him now. What we could do with a player of his ilk in the middle of the park at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Let’s not let another one slip through the net.