The second half of Sunday’s Sheffield United against Manchester City FA Cup match was a thrilling encounter and a good testament to what the FA Cup should be all about. Two teams playing their hearts out and the fans trying to outsing their opposition, creating an incredible atmosphere.
On the pitch, one of the things we often overlook is how the FA Cup gives us an opportunity to watch promising youngsters who may be the next big thing.
Last year it was Blackburn’s Matt Derbyshire who impressed me during the FA Cup match against Luton Town when the promising forward scored two outstanding goals.
This year it’s Daniel Sturridge. Never heard of him? Don’t worry, me neither. When the 18-year-old forward replaced the injured Elano to begin the second half, I was thinking that Sven Goran Eriksson was clutching at straws by bringing Sturridge on, but it didn’t take long for Eriksson to look like a genius again.
From a corner, Sturridge’s first two touches of the ball were brilliant. The first touch was to control the ball and knock it up. While in the air, his second touch was dynamite as he volleyed the ball with his left foot toward the Sheffield United goal, hitting the top of the crossbar and down into the back of the net.
Not bad for only his second appearance for Manchester City. (I later learned that Sturridge is the nephew of former Derby striker Dean Sturridge (back when Derby was a decent side)).
It wasn’t just his beautiful goal that impressed. Throughout the second half, Daniel Sturridge’s pace and tenacity were on display as well as gifted touches of the ball with his left foot.
Sturridge is yet another product of Manchester City’s youth academy. He’s been in the system at City since 2003.