Sir Alex Ferguson initiates mind games battle with Brendan Rodgers over Sturridge ‘gamble’

SIR Alex Ferguson believes Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has taken a punt by signing 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, pictured, 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.

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He could start alongside Suarez in this afternoon’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 said. “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.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, admits his side are still some way off matching arch-rivals Manchester United’s consistent dominance. It is almost 23 years since the Reds won their last league title, while two seasons ago United moved themselves clear of Liverpool’s tally with a record 19th title.

“Of course Manchester United have been very dominant over a number of years but this is a football club that also had dominance for many years,” he said. “What you are always fighting for, every day, is to get back to that level. It’s a long, hard journey but it has to start somewhere, and what I’ve seen in this first period that I’ve been here is that going forward, we can achieve great things.”