Six games into his West Ham career, it looked to us all that David Sullivan had unearthed a gem.
Having scored in his fi rst start for the club against Sheffi eld United in the League Cup, he then went on to score in his next fi ve games. He was the fi rst West Ham player to score in six straight games and equalled a 22-year-old record set by Mickey Quinn back in 1992 after scoring in his fi rst six starts.
‘He scores when he wants’, the Hammers faithful would sing of their new attacking hero. But three seasons later, the hero has fallen. The opinion of the masses, on the main, being that Sakho should be shipped out, with Rennes’ reported off er of £9million for the forward being considered a fair price for the troubled star. How did it come to this? And are the fans right to want him gone? It all boils down to two issues for many, that of fi tness and attitude.
If we look at the Premier League alone, Sakho could have played a maximum of 114 games between 2014 and 2017. He actually played just 48. That’s a mere 42 per cent. The much maligned Andy Carroll, over the same period, has played 59 times, which is a better-butstill-woeful 52 per cent.
And whilst Sakho’s stats are skewed by the fact that he only played four times in the 2016/17 season, he still only managed 57 per cent of the 76 League games in his fi rst two seasons at the club. A closer look into those four appearances last year, leads us to the attitude problems that Sakho exhibits.
Without going into some deep epistemological discourse, no-one really knows what the deal was with Sakho last year. Certain Twitter ‘ITKs’ have suggested that whilst there is some truth to the injuries that he has sustained, there is also a rift that has developed between Sakho, Bilic and members of the squad.
It started in the 2015/16 season when Sakho fell out with Bilic over the gaffers’ decision to start Carroll ahead of him for a fixture against Arsenal and reportedly hasn’t fully healed since. There was also the failed medical at WBA which shows Bilic was ready to let the forward depart. And whilst there may be no truth in this at all, images of our injured striker dancing about and riding a Segway on his Instagram account certainly don’t help the perceived image and rumours.
It all paints the picture of a player whose focus isn’t always on maintaining his fitness and scoring goals for a club that pays him well and for fans who idolise him. But then how much do we care? How he behaves behind the scenes doesn’t affect us.
His attitude is for Bilic to manage. If Gary Lewin can get him fit and any alleged rift can be repaired, then surely we’d be mad to let him go. After all, ‘He scores when he wants’. But here-in lies my biggest issue with the Sakho situation, his goal scoring record isn’t that great. In the Premier League he has scored 16 goals in his 49 games. That’s a ratio of a goal every 3.08 games. When you consider that he scored six of those goals in his first six games, you’re left with 10 goals in his subsequent 43 appearances. That means he gets a goal every 4.3 games.
All this means even if Gary Lewin could get him fit enough to play 38 league games, Sakho’s likely return would be between nine and 12 goals. For comparison purposes Andy Carroll’s record of 30 goals in his 98 games for us, including his season on loan, gives him a 3.26 games-togoal ratio. This means if we got 38 games out of him, he’d likely bag approximately 12 goals as well.
Sakho is not the 20-plus goal a season striker many of us believe he could be. And for all the baggage and aggro that he brings with him, as well as his tendency to miss significant chunks of each season, he is not, in my opinion, a striker we should put our faith in. If another offer came in for him in January, we should accept and finally end our Sakho saga.