Two weeks ago, I sat down and blogged about how I felt that Mamadou Sakho could be a key component to the club’s transition to elite football this summer. After finally accepting a transfer to Crystal Palace on the last day of January, Sakho was doing everything that was required of him. His play was transforming the once-relegation-threatened club into a formidable squad, getting himself nominated for league player-of-the-month awards in the process. As Liverpool continue to struggle to find consistency, balance, and results in the defense, Sakho was almost single-handedly putting Crystal Palace into the discussion as league’s best defensive units. Liverpool fans around the world, myself included, pondered “what if” questions and salivated about the prospects of bringing the French defender back to Anfield this summer. That is, until Sunday. Now I couldn’t give a shit.
In my years of following Liverpool as closely as I do now, few players have polarized the fan base as much as Sakho is doing now. I was one of the supporters that backed Klopp in his decision to discipline the talented defender this summer in hopes of salvaging team chemistry on the road back to glory. Others looked at the obvious glaring deficiencies in our defense and wondered why we would let such a talent get away. I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing of what goes on beyond the walls at Melwood, but it certainly seemed to me that Sakho was on the right track to rehabilitating his Liverpool career. After watching what transpired as Palace defeated Liverpool 2-1 on Sunday, I am convinced he will never again play for Jürgen Klopp. And I don’t think he should ever play for Liverpool again.
It’s incomprehensible to me that more fans aren’t incensed by what happened on Sunday. I’m even more shocked that I found myself arguing with my fellow Red friends about it. As former Liverpool flop Christian Benteke equalized the match just before halftime, Sakho was seen celebrating on the sideline with a fancy choreographed handshake. Some friends told me that they didn’t have a problem with the handshake. I was left wondering what the hell was he doing on the sideline during the match in the first place??? Never before have I ever seen a loan player sitting on the bench of a match against his parent club. I’m sure it may have happened before, but not that I can recall. If Sakho truly believed that Liverpool was in his future, he would be rooting for the Reds to continue their current undefeated streak and hope that he would have the opportunity to play Champions League football next season. What possible good does it serve his future to be sitting on the Palace bench at Anfield? One friend posed the possibility that it could be an evil psychological move by Sam Allardyce to help get give Palace an edge. OK, I’ll bite. If that were true, then either Sakho was too ignorant to recognize the ploy or he was too naïve to think it wouldn’t work. Either scenario is bad for Sakho. And what of the week leading up to the match? Was he training with the Palace defense giving them pointers on how to defend the likes of Firmino and Coutinho? Was he giving Allardyce tactical advice about how to combat and thwart the Liverpool attack? I’m not sure, but the point is that neither do you. It’s true that he needs to help his current club avoid relegation and secure their Premier League status for next season. I’m OK with that. But with all due respect, he should care more about whether his parent club is playing on Europe’s biggest stage next season. Most likely he already knows he is not wanted by Klopp, and he needs to remain professional to maximize his value in the summer transfer window. We can’t forget that he gets a percentage of whatever transfer fee his next club pays for his services, and the agent that he has advising him get a small percentage of that. This image of professional behavior and performance isn’t for Liverpool’s benefit. It’s for his own.
So why should all of this make me upset??? Quite simply it’s because I feel like I have been duped. I have taken the bait from everyone else, wondering what may have happened to our season had Sakho been a good camper all along. I have seen the resurgence of Crystal Palace as a defensive unit and given him due credit for their recent form. I have felt sorry for how UEFA treated him last spring, convincing myself that we would’ve won the Europa League in Basel had they not fucked him over. While I do feel a bit sorry for how that suspension played out, I still wonder if it would’ve played out differently had he simply confirmed his dietary supplements with the team nutritionist. Surely the club would’ve put up a major stink well before Basel if they knew precisely that Sakho was following the normal club regimen. They didn’t, which tells me that they had their doubts that he didn’t break the rules and weren’t willing to take that chance.
But let’s forget about the past. What’s done is done and I want to focus on the present. Let’s talk about the shambolic defensive unit that is currently assembled at our club. My friends know that I have a soft spot for Dejan Lovren, and while I don’t think he always deserve the bashing that everyone loves to toss his way on a weekly basis (last Sunday excepted… he was simply bad against Palace), I am smart enough to see we need an upgrade at his position. Sakho could’ve been that upgrade. But on Sunday he showed me that he doesn’t care about us. Instead of being a good soldier and sitting in the stands like Victor Moses did for Chelsea when he was loaned to us years ago, Sakho somehow found himself on the bench celebrating goals that ultimately took points away from us. Points that may prevent us from qualifying for next year’s Champions League. As far as I am concerned he can piss off. He says he wants to play for Liverpool and that he sees his future with our club. Actions speak louder than words. He doesn’t care about us. So why should we care about him??? We shouldn’t. And I won’t.
Time to move on. We have four more Cup finals to play, and the next one begins this Monday at Watford. Four more wins puts us on 78 points at the end of the season, a stout total that has always earned no worse than a fourth-place finish. We can still do this! Let’s continue to take care of business and march back to the Champions League!! See you at the pub on Monday!