- Premier League
Rodgers: Ferguson wrong on Sturridge doubts
Brendan Rodgers has defended Daniel Sturridge from doubters who claim the England forward does not have the necessary attitude to succeed at a big club.
Liverpool splashed out £12 million on Sturridge at the start of the January transfer window and he has already begun to repay that fee with two goals in as many games.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson spoke publicly of his doubts over Sturridge, admiring his desire to play regular football but highlighting the 23-year-old's failure to stay at one club for any significant period of time.
Liverpool are Sturridge's third big club in less than four years, having previously moved from Manchester City to Chelsea, but Rodgers insists the striker's failure to settle is purely due to a lack of first-team chances.
"It has been very unfair, I have to say" Rodgers said. "I remember being at Chelsea and I'd heard all these things about Nicolas Anelka being an awkward player and I found him one of the nicest guys I ever met in football.
"Sometimes when you are quiet and you focus on yourself you can be criticised for being awkward, but I don't think that is the case with Daniel at all.
"I was aware of him beforehand and I think any frustrations and disappointments he's had were purely down to the basis he wasn't playing or getting an opportunity.
"He has mixed well here and is very hungry to learn. It is going to take time for him to feel at ease and comfortable. This will be his first time playing at Anfield and that is a real special feeling."
Rodgers claims Sturridge is nearing 100 per cent fitness after two appearances in the red of Liverpool, and the Anfield boss is clearly looking forward to starting him alongside Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard for the first time when Norwich visit on Saturday.
"Top players can play with each other and I'm really confident Daniel will flourish in his time here," he said. "That relationship [with Suarez] will take a bit of time to be totally co-ordinated but I've seen in training, with them working together and with other players, the balance is right.
"At Old Trafford, his performance typified the reason we brought him in. It was a terrific shot by Steven Gerrard, a good save by David De Gea and he's in there, in the box looking for a goal. There are not many players who would have got to that loose ball.
"He's very close [to full fitness] and working very hard. When you have good players like Daniel, Luis and Steven and the other players around them, it makes things really exciting."