Jamie Carragher Talks Daniel Sturridge After Liverpool Lose to Manchester City

Christopher SimpsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 29, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28 :  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool during the Capital One Cup Final match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 28, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher was critical of Daniel Sturridge's performance in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday, but he believes the Reds cannot do without him.

Per Alex Sharp for the MailOnline, following the Reds' penalty defeat to Manchester City, Carragher told Sky Sports: "Sturridge didn’t perform well. Liverpool need to keep him though as there are very few quality strikers out there. He is one of Liverpool's few real technical players. They can’t get the likes of a [Karim] Benzema. [Christian] Benteke cost £30 million and he couldn’t even get on the pitch."

Despite seeing out the 120 minutes, the Englishman did not step up to take a penalty, with manager Jurgen Klopp revealing after the match that Sturridge was suffering from cramp, per Liverpool's official Twitter feed:

Nevertheless, Carragher was still perplexed as to why the forward did not take one: "He looks upset. He had cramps towards the end but unless he has an injury, I don't see why he hasn't taken a penalty."

The 26-year-old did have a hand in the Reds' late equaliser, as it was his cross that Philippe Coutinho eventually turned in after Adam Lallana diverted it onto the post.

Match of the Day host Gary Lineker summarised the England international at the time of the goal:

However, lone frontman Sturridge otherwise contributed little to the cause in a largely anonymous performance—though in his defence, his team-mates gave him little to feed off, and he frequently had to drop deep to get involved at all.

Essentially, Carragher was reiterating the opinion of Sturridge he gave ahead of the game:

When fit, he is one of the most prolific goalscorers in the Premier League, and he's without a doubt Liverpool's best option at centre-forward, so despite his injury problems and possible struggles in big games, the Reds need his pace, predatory finishing and excellent all-round play in the final third.

That's particularly been the case this season with Benteke's big-money move thus far proving a complete failure, coming right off the back of unsuccessful spells for the likes of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert at Anfield.

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

His stats for the season sum him up in a nutshell—prior to Sunday's final, he had played just 606 minutes of football this season, but he'd scored five goals in that time. Even after 120 unsuccessful minutes against City, that's still a fairly impressive goal return for the time he's spent on the pitch.

Unfortunately for both club and player, it's difficult for Liverpool to rely on him due to his constant injury problems.

A possible solution is for the Reds to almost prepare their squad ahead of a new campaign as if he isn't there—that way, if he spends most of the season unavailable, Liverpool already have a complete squad, and if he is fit, they have a wealth of options to call upon.

In that case, they simply need better recruitment up front—while it's unfair to judge Danny Ings yet having been relegated to the sidelines with injury so early in his Anfield career, Balotelli, Lambert and Benteke have all been poor acquisitions.

In the mean time, the Reds need to keep him fit as long as they can—but as Sturridge has proved on a regular basis, that's easier said than done.