Mon, Sep 26, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Klopp refuses to let Sakho storm overshadow victory

AFP, LIVERPOOL, England

Liverpool’s James Milner, front, scores from the penalty spot against Hull City in their Premier League match at Anfield in Liverpool, England, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Juergen Klopp would not allow controversial comments from defender Mamadou Sakho to take the gloss of a “brilliant” first-half performance from his Liverpool side as they beat Hull City 5-1 at Anfield on Saturday.

Sakho said in a social media posting that suggestions he was not fit to play were a “lie.”

Sakho — who was sent home from Liverpool’s pre-season tour of the US for disciplinary reasons — is yet to play for the Reds this season and rejected the chance to move on loan before the transfer window closed.

Liverpool manager Klopp said earlier this month that the France international did not need to regain his trust, but that Sakho needed to build up his fitness after not playing since April following a suspension for a failed drugs tests — subsequently overturned by UEFA — and an injury sustained in pre-season.

However, Sakho disputed those claims and said he had completed his rehabilitation work.

“I accept my situation, but I can’t accept the lie — the fans deserve to know the truth,” the former Paris Saint-Germain defender, 29, said on Snapchat. “Now it’s three weeks since I am fit to play games. I finish all my rehabilitation work.”

Klopp was asked about Sakho’s comments after Liverpool had won for a third successive English Premier League game, but said it was not the time to make a response.

“On a match day I’m in completely the wrong mood to think about things like this,” Klopp said. “It’s not the right moment to speak about it. It makes sense to think about something and then you give the right answer. It is not positive, I would say. I will address the situation when I think is the right moment. I haven’t decided when that is, but it’s not Christmas.”

Klopp had no other problems to contend with as he saw his side sweep aside a Hull side reduced to 10 men after half an hour when defender Ahmed Elmohamady was sent off for handling the ball on the line and conceding a penalty which gave Liverpool a 2-0 lead.

They were 3-0 up at the break and Klopp said: “The first half was brilliant. That was how football should be if you are able to do it.”

“The second half was not as exciting, still good, but not at 100 percent of concentration,” he said.

The result means the Tigers have now lost three of their past four league games, but acting manager Mike Phelan was not prepared to criticize his team in the middle of a testing run which continues with a home game against Chelsea next weekend.

“I am not going to pick holes in the team or the players,” Phelan said. “They have come a long way from pre-season and they have got points on the board already. We also knew we had a run of three games — Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea — which are always going to be difficult, but we have to show some kind of discipline and desire.”

“Liverpool are flying. You can see their mentality is good. Their work rate is up there with the best,” he said. “They are looking a very, very good team that has gelled together.”

Phelan, 54, on the day of the game, said he still wants to become Hull manager on a permanent basis.

“I have an offer to become manager,” he said. “It is down to the current owners. I am ready and willing. They have stressed they want me for the challenge. It is just waiting for that moment where they put that piece of paper in front of me and I will do what I have to do.”

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