‘Soldier’ Mamadou Sakho Is Ready To Be Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool Lieutenant


Liverpool’s image of the week has undoubtedly been the one of a shattered Adam Lallana falling into the arms of Jurgen Klopp after being substituted at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon.

For 81 minutes in North London, Lallana had been asked to run and fight and scrap like never before in his career, with the effects seeing him resemble a marathon runner at the finish line when he was replaced by Joe Allen late on.

You can debate the science or the revolutionary nature of Klopp’s tactics all you want – and plenty have been doing – but what is key is that if Liverpool are going to achieve success under their new manager then they are going to have to have worked hard for it.

As the German himself has said, there still needs to be a serious improvement in the quality of the Reds’ play if they are to achieve their goals.

That should come with a combination of time and one or two new faces, but the aspects of determination and hard work should already be engrained. They are two of the many things that Brendan Rodgers prided himself on, after all.

But – and again refreshingly put by the former Borussia Dortmund boss – when Klopp has a full team to choose from he will have these ‘workers’ available. Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings never shy away from the tough stuff, and neither do James Milner, Emre Can, Lucas Leiva or, apparently, the almost reborn Lallana.

He’s going to need someone to enforce this work ethic on the pitch, though, and in Mamadou Sakho he’s get a perfect figure to do just that.

FBL-EUR-C3-BORDEAUX-LIVERPOOL : News Photo

A favourite of the Liverpool fans, it was Sakho’s name which was being bellowed out of the away end at full-time at Tottenham on Saturday, and not Klopp’s.

The French centre-back won’t have shed any tears at the departure of Rodgers from his life over the past couple of weeks, and instead he’ll be looking to live up to his own description of himself as ‘a Liverpool soldier’ as he gets used to life under his new boss.

Rodgers never seemed to take to Sakho – something many saw as a consequence of the power struggle he had with Liverpool’s infamous and murky transfer committee – but anyone who has watched the Frenchman’s Liverpool career at close quarters can tell you that he is the best central defender they’ve got right now.

He might look ungainly at times, and he can sometimes want an extra split-second on the ball when the situation doesn’t really merit one, but his positioning sense is excellent more often than not and he was superb in the goalless draw at Spurs, his sixth appearance of a season in which Liverpool remain unbeaten in the matches he’s figured in.

He’s growing increasingly important, and if anything that importance should now increase even more.

For the past few, Klopp-less years that other MS, Martin Skrtel, has become the de facto leader of the Liverpool defence due to the fact that he would usually be guaranteed a start. He’s the second longest-serving player at the club, but the Slovakian’s performances have been quietly dropping off ever since Rodgers’ wild ride of 2013/14.

With Dejan Lovren now seemingly traumatised by the mere thought of defending, Joe Gomez injured and Kolo Toure only really around to act as a hyperactive mascot, Sakho should be partnering Skrtel for the vast majority of matches, but crucially he should also be leading him with a view to perhaps playing alongside a better, younger centre-back in future.

Skrtel has never been very good as the senior member of the back-line, with his best days coming when he could look over his shoulder and see Sami Hyypia, Daniel Agger or Jamie Carragher alongside him.

Nobody is suggesting that Sakho is in that category just yet, but at 25 and with a new manager devoid of the in-house politicking which so wore down Rodgers and everyone around him, this would be the perfect time for the Frenchman to show his true worth to a club and fans he clearly admires.

The feeling is growing increasingly mutual, and as Liverpool run, fight and scrap for whatever they want to achieve under Klopp, they should be doing so with Sakho leading from the back.

 

Read more from Mark Jones