I’ll be the first to admit that when it was announced that Liverpool had signed Sadio Mané from Southampton I thought great another over priced player from a shit club had joined Liverpool. Jürgen Klopp hasn’t learnt from the mistakes of the past and Liverpool had again being done over again by Southampton. Like so many I had already given up on Mané before a ball was even kicked in anger.
While Mané impressed during pre season I knew, that pre season games were no stuck in which to judge a player after all, Liverpool had played a lot of lesser teams and won quite convincingly against each team.
Then came the day all us fans were looking forward to, the first game of the season against Arsenal. Mané’s performance that day completely changed my view of him. That day he was immense. Running the channels, giving players the run around, scoring goals, setting up goals, for me it was a complete performance. After the game I thought to myself, maybe just maybe Klopp has gotten it right, that the five players Liverpool had brought in from Southampton were a prelude to Mané’s arrival.
Mané’s importance in the team was cemented when against Burnley without him Liverpool slumped to a surprising 2-0 defeat. For some this showed that Liverpool as a team were much better with Mané in the team then when he was out of it. Liverpool had only played two games at this stage. When it was reported that Mané had suffered an injury during the most recent international break there was a collective sigh of fuck we’re doomed amongst the Liverpool fans. Fans started to pray, pray that Mané’s injury wasn’t serious and that he would arrive back at Melwood injury free and fit to face Leicester and as luck would have it all our prayer were answered! Mané came back injury free and put in a scintillating performance against the champions.
So what did Jürgen Klopp see in the Southampton player? Last season Mané played a total of 37 appearances in the league, scoring 11 goals and creating 41 chances. He had a shot accuracy of 52% and won 50% of his duels. In the 3 games this season for Liverpool he has two goals scored, four chances created and has a 100% shot accuracy.
While I’m aware that Liverpool have only played four games this season, as I said above Mané has become an integral part of the Liverpool attack. The team are much more balanced when he plays. His off the ball runs opens up space for other players to get in to and his ability to run for 90 minutes is the stuff of nightmares for opposing defenders. Spurs left back Danny Rose is testiment to this fact.
Mané’s ability to play anywhere along the front line is another plus for Jürgen Klopp, with Daniel Sturridge injury prone, Phillipe Coutinho at this stage of the season trying to find some sort of rhythm and Roberto Firmino relishing his role in the Liverpool attack, Mané seems to be Klopps go to guy.
Mané is the winger Liverpool have been crying out for over the last number of seasons. Some fans have even compared Mané to ex fan favourite Luis Suarez. Not because of his goal scoring feats but with his work rate. Mané isn’t afraid to help out in defence and he has the ability to turn defence in to attack in an instant. This willingness is something that gives the players around him confidence. They know Mané is always around them and if needed will stick a boot in and bail them out.
Against Arsenal, Spurs and Leicester Mané has been Liverpool’s main focal point for attacks. He gives both Firmino and Sturridge the room they need to do their thing, which is score goals and this is something Liverpool have done plenty of in the first four games of the season. They’ve put four past both Arsenal and Leicester and we’re unlucky not to score more then one against Spurs.
With Mané heading off to play in the African Cup of Nations in January Liverpool fans will be hoping he’s on the first flight home, otherwise it could be a long fruitless few weeks for the Reds without Mané pulling the strings in the Liverpool attack.
Written by @TheMoanyOne