There are parts of any job that can be safely filed under ‘unpleasant necessities’.
Some jobs are made up of tasks that are inherently unpleasant such as bin collectors or repairing motorways in the middle of the night where the wind threatens to rip your face off.
For office workers, this can entail anything from meetings to socialising with colleagues where the thought of gnawing your own hand like it’s a KFC drumstick to eschew the tedium dictates your every thought.
You might think Premier League footballers are exempt from anything unpleasant.
Premier League clubs employ armies of staff to make the lives of their players as serene as possible, all while paying their players eye-popping amounts of wonga to kick an inflated orb on manicured pitches.
But an unpleasant necessity for any footballer involves flinging your body in the way of man and ball on evenings marked by plummeting temperatures.
Take Ibrahima Konate, for example. As Liverpool got caught playing with their food against Arsenal in the FA Cup, Gabriel Martinelli raced into the Reds penalty area and pulled the ball back for a team-mate to open the scoring.
Except they didn’t. Putting his body where Marcus Rashford wouldn’t put somebody else’s toenail, Konate dived in front of Reiss Nelson and prevented the Arsenal striker from introducing ball to net.
Liverpool eventually thwarted the danger after an extended scramble and Martin Odegaard twanging the crossbar, but it was Konate’s whole-hearted commitment that caught the eye.
The 24-year-old’s heroism and scant concern for his own well-being wouldn’t have looked out of place in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.
That Konate Block 😍pic.twitter.com/MxScGesdIf
— Anything Liverpool (@AnythingLFC_) January 7, 2024
The Liverpool defender took home the Man of the Match prize after the Reds’ 2-0 victory on account of making two blocks, two interceptions and completing 85% of his passes.
And Jurgen Klopp admitted that he would have conceded defeat in the tie had the Frenchman or Quansah been forced to come off.
When asked how he would describe his centre-backs’ displays, Klopp replied: “Top, top. Oh my God, the horrible moment was [when] Ibou was twice down and then Jarell goes down and jarred his back, twisted a little bit.
“Actually, I thought that’s it and then it would have been really tricky early in the game. It was really good [from Konate and Quansah] and Joey [Gomez] again [was] good and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] exceptional.”
Konate told the BBC: “Yes, I am really happy but I think the man of the match was all of the team. I am very happy. We go through to the next round.
“Yes, of course [I’m happy with the way the season is going]. It’s hard to play a lot of games but we love it. We did it two years ago, we won two cups.
“I hope this season is different [win more]. Fingers crossed.”
Konate is currently enjoying his strongest season at Liverpool since arriving in 2021, making him indispensable alongside Virgil van Dijk at the heart of defence.
Yesterday’s defensive masterclass, his second in under a month against the Gunners, came without Van Dijk and indicated a player who is visibly growing in stature.
While some people may view blocking the ball as an unpleasant necessity of defending, Konate evidently thrives upon it. Maybe now we can give the Liverpool man the flowers he deserves.
By Michael Lee