Managers, they’re a stubborn bunch aren’t they and to become a successful manager, you have to be stubborn at times.
We’ve all seen it in the past, Jose Mourhino with Florent Malouda at Chelsea, banishing a League and Champions League winner to train with the kids as he saw out his contract.
Mourhino has also all but ruined Bastian Schweinsteiger’s career at Manchester United, Brendan Rodgers tried it with Emre Can but injury meant he had to play the German international, Sir Alex Ferguson with David Beckham and Roy Keane.
If you go through each Premier League club you’ll see examples of managers being stubborn, sometimes it’s works in their favour and sometimes it back fires on them.
Where am I going with all this, well at Liverpool this season there is a battle of wills going on between manager Jürgen Klopp and the President of Liverpool Mamadou Sakho.
Up until the Bournemouth defeat, Klopp appeared to be winning this battle but when Joël Matip pulled up injured in training, Liverpool’s defensive frailties reappeared.
The constant inability of Dejan Lovren to do things the simple things right without a defensive leader beside him speaks volumes of his ability.
Although Klopp added to Liverpool’s back line in the summer bringing in Matip and Ragnar Klaven, for some reason he prefers to play Lucas as a centre back, Lucas the master of the fuck up as a centre back over Klaven, Sakho and Tiago Ilori – remember him.
Some might say Lovren is only in the team until young Joe Gomez is fit to start a full Premier League season, to me that’s a cop out. Gomez will need at least another 18 months to be what you would call fully fit.
In the 22 appearances he made for Liverpool last season, his average defensive actions per game was 9, his pass accuracy was 88%, for a defender who can’t pass the ball that’s not bad.
He managed to score one goal last season and created four chances. He also won 60% of his average duels.
The season before that in the 16 games he played, his average defensive actions per game was 8, his pass accuracy was a massive 90%, again not too bad, while he didn’t manage to score any goals he created five chances. He also won an average 57% of his average duels.
While over the course of the 32 league games he played over those two seasons he did make five defensive errors, for comparison Dejan Lovren made 8 while playing nearly double the games Sakho played.
We all know Sakho is, well a bit of a messer, that was shown in America last summer where his constant messing and what some might call general lack of professionalism got him sent home early from the tour, on the pitch it’s a different story with him.
He takes control of situations and disposes of the ball in a calm manner and rarely loses the run of himself.
Alongside Matip I think Liverpool wouldn’t need to invest in the centre back area for another four to five years. Both players are natural leaders on the pitch and their confidence will help those around them and that can’t be all bad right?
Sakho while playing for the U-23’s has been nothing short of professional. He plays each game like it’s a Premier League game and his experience has boosted the young lads around him both on and off the pitch.
Klopp in this case I think needs to swallow his pride and give Sakho one last chance, partner him alongside Matip and let him succeed or fail on his performances on the pitch not his actions off it.