If recent reports from French publication L’ Equipe are anything to rely on, it seems it has finally dawned on Mamadou Sakho, Liverpool’s out-of-favour central half, that Jurgen is hell bent on seeing him leave the club for good this season . The French newspaper reported that Sakho is now ready to listen to offers from other clubs during the January window, in order to resurrect his career after having been frozen out of team action since the beginning of this season. The faceoff between Sakho and the charismatic German manager has been going on silently but worryingly since the former was sent home from the club’s pre-season tour in United States on the score of insubordination and other disciplinary issues. What is really happening behind the scene is only open to conjecture.
When it was first reported by the journalist covering Liverpool’s pre-season tour that Sakho was unlikely to play again for the club due to the objectionable way he had conducted himself in America, fans accused the journalist of expressing his personal opinion; but events that followed after the team returned from their tour showed that the journalist was spot on and that the fans were only getting a bit too emotional over the frightening possibility of seeing their beloved and committed player stampeded out the club.
What were Sakho’s offences in the United States that warranted his being sent home prematurely from the pre-season tour? The report that came down from their camp in the United States gave three reasons why Klopp had to rid the camp of the disturbing presence of Sakho whom he had taken along in spite of his niggling injury. The first one was that Sakho deliberatively came late to the airport as the team were about to leave for the tour. The second was that he again showed up late for the team’s joint lunch when they arrived in the US. The last one that broke the carmel’s back was his audacious interruption of Klopp’s interview by asking the manager an irrelevant question under the disguise of a joke. A careful look at the manner the three offences were committed, would reveal to those familiar with how children express their grievances that Sakho acting like a man-child was trying – though with unbecoming puerility – to make his manager understand that he was feeling indignant about an issue that the manager was remotely or directly responsible for.
At this junction, I am setting free rein to my imagination in my attempt to unravel what was eating into the mind of Sakho that prompted him to commit the indiscretion he is no doubt regretting, as he has learnt to his own cost that Klopp in spite of affable hugs and mirthful laughter, possesses a ruthless temperament that does not brook any act of insubordination from his players regardless of their abilities or favourable standing with the club’s fans. And my mind tells me that Sakho was indignant over Klopp’s stand on his UEFA ban on the erroneous allegation of using a banned substance.
Let us look briefly at what played out in the wake of Sakho’s temporary ban by UEFA after he failed a doping test at the end of Liverpool Europe’s match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. I am going to consider first, the position of Liverpool’s former defender Jamie Carragher.Writing in his newspaper column, Carragher, in the teeth of the time honoured saying that a suspect is presumed innocent till guilt is established by court of competent jurisdiction, pronounced Sakho guilty. He said amogst other things that Sakho had no excuse whatsoever for taking a banned substance. However,UEFA’s final verdict showed that Sakho did have an excuse and that Carragher should show more restraint in future in matters of that nature. From the club’s position, Klopp was taciturn about the whole issue but he later came out to say that the club would leave Sakho out of team selection till UEFA gave a final verdict on the case.
Assuming I am right in my earlier supposition that the failed drug test was the bone of contention between Sakho and Jurgen Klopp,then there are certain questions that come to the inquiring mind begging for answers.After the result of Sakho’s test was initially made public did Klopp, after the fashion of Carragher, severely reprimand Sakho for using a fat burning substance without obtaining clearance from the club’s medics ? Did Mamadou Sakho argue his innocence before the club’s legal team and manager? Who took the decision to leave Sakho out of team selection till UEFA’s made a final pronouncement on the issue? Was Sakho supported by the manager and the club’s legal team when he decided to argue his innocence before UEFA’s investigative body?
It is worth remembering that UEFA prior to delivering their final position on Sakho actually came out to say that it was the player that took a unilateral decision to stay away from playing for the club till the issue was cleared. It was at that point that it became apparent that Sakho would get off the hook, because at some point in their investigation UEFA had had to investigate whether the active ingredient in the fat burner Sakho took was amongst its list of banned drugs. UEFA’s statement concerning Sakho’s initial ban also showed that any potential court case from Sakho would exonerate them from any wrong doing in their handling of the matter. Sakho’s failed drug test, it must be admitted, was an affair that brought to light the level of incompetence in the operation of UEFA.
It is my belief, though it lacks collaborative evidence, that Sakho was vexed over the way Klopp treated him in the wake of his failed drug test and that was the reason he became unruly during the club’s pre-season tour of the United States. I must also state at once that his methods of expressing his grievance, if my assumptions are right, were very childish and reprehensible.
If Sakho is eventually sold in January, no true Liverpool’s fan would ever question his commitment to the club. The public spirited tasks he does on regular basis in his neighbourhood, his refusal to go on loan at the beginning of the season all point to the fact that he has a deep-seated love for the club he once called – my Liverpool Country.
Jurgen Klopp’s position in respect of Sakho’s unruliness is the right way to handle issue of this nature. No footballer should ever be so indulged that he then feels he is bigger than the club. Klopp’s action will undoubtedly serve as a deterrent to other players in the club who may be tempted to challenge his authority after the manner of Mamadou Sakho.
By January, it will become very clear whether Sakho would be loaned out to another club or even sold, or Klopp would have a change of heart and offer him a second chance. What should never be in doubt is that the French Central half had a reason for the objectionable way he conducted himself while on pre-season tour in the United States. Even if my supposition turns out to be far from the truth, the method behind Mamadou Sakho madness will come to light some day in the future when either of them (Klopp and Sakho)decides to give account of what played out between them in a book or an interview, as it is so commonly done these days by players and managers