Brendan Rodgers has reminded Daniel Sturridge that Liverpool players must abide by a high level of professionalism after the English striker sulked off the pitch during the club's 4-0 dismantling of Everton.
The Reds boss watched on as Sturridge put Roberto Martinez's team to the sword by scoring a brace—the second of which was a memorable lob over Tim Howard—but removed his forward from the game after he blasted a penalty over the bar.
Soon after he blazed high, the player showed real greediness after deciding not to play a simple pass toward Luis Suarez, who stared into an open goal. Instead, Sturridge blasted well over from a difficult angle. He was substituted straight after and appeared to question Rodgers' decision when walking off.
As reported by John Edwards of the Daily Mail, Rodgers wishes to play down the incident, but sent out a warning to the player:
It was just frustration on his part, but there is no problem.
Sometimes it is tactical or down to injury, but you accept coming off and sit with the rest for the remainder of the game. If you want an explanation, you can knock on my door the next morning, and you will get an honest answer. You don’t disrespect the club or its supporters. Daniel was just disappointed because he was desperate to get on the scoresheet again.
Sturridge apologised in an interview with BT Sport after the game, as noted in Edwards' report, saying "it was just disappointment after missing the penalty."
The incident was the only blemish on a near-perfect night for Liverpool, largely down to Sturridge's play before he dabbled with petulance.
His brace came after Steven Gerrard provided the lead via a header, while Suarez added a fourth with a quick breakaway goal.
Liverpool are now four points clear of Everton and remain three ahead of Tottenham, who face Manchester City in their game in hand. Rodgers' team look comfortable in fourth and have major confidence going into the upcoming matches with West Brom, Arsenal and Fulham.
Sturridge is enjoying an excellent season, one that has seen him score 13 goals and provide three assists in 14 Premier League appearances, per WhoScored.com. There is no doubting the player's talent, we saw that during spells at Manchester City, Chelsea and Bolton, but his attitude has the potential to halt his progress.
Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail summed Sturridge up perfectly back in 2010, as Chelsea and City tried to agree a valuation for the player:
At times Sturridge can appear lazy. Arrogant even.
And here is the crux of the issue, because those who fear he will not maximise his potential question his attitude or, more accurately, those who influence it.
'If you spend all your life being told you’re brilliant, sooner or later you’ll believe it,' was the assessment of one person who worked closely with him, but the sentiment is echoed by others.
Sturridge's form will play a major role in where Liverpool end up this season, so at least the 24-year-old quickly apologised for an unnecessary moment. He appeared jovial on Twitter after the match, indicating he is ready to move on:
Edwards' report confirms Rodgers is looking to make a "major signing" before the transfer deadline passes on Jan. 31, suggesting he is not willing to rest on his laurels when trying to land a Champions League spot.
He needs a fully aligned, peaceful squad if the Reds are to qualify for Europe's most exclusive club competition, so he will not want to witness a repeat from Sturridge at this crucial time.