SAF: Sturridge signing 'a gamble'
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has taken a punt on signing striker Daniel Sturridge.
Having been left with only Luis Suarez as a regular striker when the last transfer window closed, Rodgers moved quickly in this one to supplement his forward options.
Sturridge is an England international. But his four caps equal the number of clubs he has played for, with a period on loan at Bolton in addition to spells with Manchester City and Chelsea prior to his big £12million Anfield move.
He could start alongside Suarez in tomorrow's eagerly-anticipated Old Trafford showdown, but Ferguson feels his ability cannot be taken for granted.
"The big issue for Liverpool is whether they include new signing Daniel Sturridge," Ferguson told United Review.
"Certainly the arrival of Sturridge gives Brendan Rodgers more strength and options up front.
"Sturridge has had a few clubs but I don't blame him for jumping at the chance of joining Liverpool because he just wasn't playing regularly with Chelsea and I always rate a player whose priority is wanting to play.
"Even so, his track record moving between a number of clubs suggests Brendan Rodgers is taking a bit of a gamble, but he clearly knows what he is doing."
Ferguson has selection issues of his own to deal with, not least whether to draft Nani and Anderson straight back into his starting line-up after recovering from their respective hamstring strains.
The likelihood is that both men will be on the bench at best, although Rio Ferdinand is glad to have them back.
"They are both naturally talented footballers," said Ferdinand.
"You don't really get players who can beat opponents in the middle of the park these days.
"That is a good asset to have and is something Anderson has above anyone else. He can go past players and commit people.
"Nani is the same. He is one of the most talented players I have played with.
"He is always a threat. He is quick, sharp and shoots off both feet.
"He can cross the ball too so overall, he has everything."
Just as much of an asset on this particular occasion will be the ability to keep calm under pressure.
As Ferguson has pointed out, the "bloodthirsty" days of Steve McMahon and Norman Whiteside may have disappeared but the intensity of these occasions can still catch the unprepared off guard.
With Robin van Persie already reaching 20 goals and showing little sign of slowing, the key to victory for United would seem to lie in defence.
Remarkably, should they avoid conceding the first goal, it will be the first time they have done so in four consecutive games all season.
They even managed a couple of clean sheets prior to last week's FA Cup thriller at West Ham.
Consistency, both in terms of selection and the players appearing on the training ground, has to be a positive, so perhaps it is no surprise improvement has come when Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have re-appeared after long-term injuries.
In addition, Ferguson appears to have abandoned his goalkeeping rotation policy.
David de Gea has appeared in eight successive games since displacing Anders Lindegaard for the Champions League encounter with CFR Cluj at the beginning of last month.
Not that the Spain Olympic keeper has felt anything other than number one since his much heralded arrival from Atletico Madrid as Edwin van der Sar's replacement in 2011.
"From the moment, I signed I always considered myself to be first-choice goalkeeper," said De Gea.
"Obviously it is down to the manager.
"He does what he feels is right and can rotate the keepers as and when he feels it is good for the team.
"For me, it is just a case of keeping going in the same vein and working hard to hope that the good run I have had continues."