LUIS SUAREZ sent his former Liverpool team-mates a good luck message – but Daniel Sturridge insisted they can be better without the Uruguayan after seeing off Southampton’s challenge.
Sturridge scored from close range with 11 minutes remaining as life without Suarez began with a 2-1 win at Anfield for last season’s Premier League runners-up.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers revealed Suarez, who moved to Barcelona in the summer for £75million, had sent him a text before the game and Sturridge believes the departure of his former partner will not deflect his team-mates.
Asked if Liverpool can be stronger without Suarez, Sturridge said: “I think so. With the players the manager has brought in – and no disrespect to Luis because he’s a great player and he’ll be missed – but we move on from that now.
“We have shown that we can win games, we can score goals and we can defend well.
“We were unlucky to concede a goal but, with the level the players are producing, we will be OK this season.”
The focus on Liverpool has centred around what impact the loss of Suarez, who scored 31 goals last season, will have on them, but Rodgers is confident of doing well.
“Our ambitions have to be bigger than one player,” said Rodgers. “Luis Suarez sent us a lovely text this morning wishing us all the best and telling us to start strong – it’s a lovely gesture.
“He sent the text to me personally. What did it say? Don’t be so nosey! I texted him back – it’s a great love in I’ve got with him! He’s a great boy but he has gone. It was a lovely touch. Liverpool will always be in his heart.”
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman saw his side recover from Raheem Sterling’s opener through Nathaniel Clyne and, even after Sturridge’s goal, Morgan Schneiderlin’s late shot was pushed on to the crossbar by Simon Mignolet.
After a tumultuous summer at St Mary’s with the sale of £95m worth of talent, the Dutchman was buoyed by his team’s performance.
“We were unlucky,” he said. “We played a great second half and at 1-1 there was one team on the pitch playing and it was Southampton.
“We had a chance to score the second one, two great opportunities but the quality of Liverpool, they don’t need many opportunities to score and that makes the difference.
“There is only one way to end all of the stories about how we will do and it is between the white lines of the pitch.
“We played an impressive second half and that is how we like to play. If we play like that, I don’t think we will struggle.”