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English Premier League 2016-17

It’s not Christmas: Juergen Klopp sidesteps Mamadou Sakho Liverpool storm after Hull City win

The Reds recorded a 5-1 victory at Anfield on Saturday to secure a third successive three points in the Premier League despite distraction caused by the France defender

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 September, 2016, 12:38pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 September, 2016, 9:29pm

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 on Saturday that suggestions that he was not fit to play were a “lie”.

Sakho, who was sent home from Liverpool’s preseason tour of the United States 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 - which was subsequently overturned by Uefa - and an injury sustained in preseason.

But 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 won for a third successive Premier League game, but said this was not the time to make a response.

The German added: “On a match day I’m in completely the wrong mood to think about things like this.

“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.

Watch: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp

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 per cent of concentration.”

The result means Hull have now lost three of their last four league games, but acting manager Mike Phelan was not prepared to criticise 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,” said Phelan. “They have come a long way from preseason 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. They are looking a very, very good team that has gelled together.”

Phelan, 54, on the day of the game, insisted he still wanted 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.”

Watch: Hull City caretaker manager Mike Phelan