Sturridge bristles at critics of 'integrity'

LONDON • At the final whistle following Liverpool's meek 1-3 loss to Swansea on Sunday, Daniel Sturridge headed straight for the tunnel.

The Reds striker had played 90 minutes, but probably knew that he had not won over those who query whether he works hard enough for the demanding Juergen Klopp.

The Liverpool manager was at pains to defend Sturridge's failure to walk over to the travelling fans, saying that, as he too had left the pitch immediately, he could hardly castigate his striker.

"He was not ignoring the fans," Klopp said.

"I went in immediately also. I hope our fans know how close we are to them. You want to go home, rest and recover after a game like that. My fault if someone does not say thank you - it is down to me."

However, the timing of Sturridge's act is interesting. Having suffered rumours about his fitness, he is now the subject of speculation that he lacks the intensity Klopp likes in his players.

This was magnified when Klopp omitted him from the starting lineup against Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, which ended in a 0-1 defeat for the Reds.

Sturridge defended his own attitude and approach in an interview on for The Daily Mail on Sunday.

"I'm here to work," he said. "I'm not here to have fun. I'm not here for a jolly-up. Liverpool, for me, is work. It's a job. It's something I take seriously and for anyone to question my integrity, it's disrespectful."

On another day, Sturridge lasting the full 90 minutes may even have implied that Klopp was preparing him to start against Villarreal in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final at Anfield.

Now, though, it could be interpreted as Klopp being prepared to sacrifice the striker knowing that he will not start with him on Thursday.

"I'm so relaxed in my life right now," Sturridge recently insisted, but at the Liberty Stadium he seemed a player with the world on his shoulders.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2016, with the headline 'Sturridge bristles at critics of 'integrity''. Print Edition | Subscribe