It has been a difficult season for Liverpool, especially with their recent exit from the UEFA Champions League. But the blame game should not be implemented on a singular player, especially with essential fixtures remaining on the season.
Liverpool’s 3-1 first leg UCL tie versus Real Madrid was a dampener on the squad, to then face an uphill battle in the reverse fixture this past Tuesday evening – it was evident that confidence was low. Despite Liverpool creating multiple chances to get on the scorecard, the final whistle blew as a 0-0 score line provided Merseyside’s favourites with their exit from the world’s most prestigious club competition.
Their Champions League departure came at the worst time, with the 32nd anniversary of Hillsborough landing the day following. A push for European glory would have boosted morale, without a doubt – but dwelling on ‘what ifs’ is not assistance for anyone inside the club.
The Decline of Sadio Mane
During Liverpool’s 2018/2019 English Premier League run, Mane bagged himself an impressive twenty-two goals and another eighteen-last season. But the 2020/2021 term has not been close to the striker’s past performances; a measly seven-goal tally is not what a key striker of his price should be producing.
However, the scrutiny he is receiving should be put on hold. Explaining the Senegalese star’s output is complex; while his morale is down and showing signs of his former self are still present, the goals are not.
Taking on passes in tight areas, forcing forward directly at his marker and maintaining the difficulty to defend against him remains. Still, while these attributes stand out, so does his overall flare and lack of confidence. Decision making has been atrocious, and an inability to be in the correct positions when needed has accompanied Liverpool’s overall performances.
There was a moment of hope during the reverse clash against Madrid. Everyone is aware of Mane’s explosiveness, up the flank, he rarely fails with his stop-start motions and momentarily showed faith within this position. Unfortunately, Madrid’s Rodrygo was not backing down, and Mane’s reaction to those situations where Rodrygo conquered the forward said it all.
It’s becoming apparent; specifically, his goal-scoring numbers have been heavily affected in the Premier League, where the striker has fielded in all of Liverpool’s 31 fixtures barring three. These statistics have also reflected his available odds; while learning more about the best sportsbooks, you can see the odds-on Mane to score nearly tripled last season’s prices.
Klopp Denies Harsh Criticism
Jurgen Klopp is refusing to accept Sadio Mane has been worn down and that past seasons are catching up with his striker, but admittedly revealed there is an issue for Mane:
“We all know how good Sadio Mane is, what a player he is and what he did for us, but obviously, the numbers scoring-wise are not great at the moment,” Klopp told the Guardian. “He knows that, and a player with the mindset of Sadio wants to do extremely well. That is the situation he is in, and each striker in the world knows these kinds of situations. I am not concerned, but I see it as well. It is clear, and we work on it.”
“The schedule of the last three years was for a lot of players in world football a tough one, for him as well, but I don’t think that is the reason. There is no real physical problem for Sadio. We all need breaks from time to time, but it is not a general problem; it is just the situation. If you do not score for a while, then strikers start thinking. The moment you start thinking exactly the right things again, then it will be fine again. We have to make sure that this time is not too far away.”
With Leeds United and Newcastle, the following two domestic fixtures in front of Liverpool, tensions on and off the field could settle down. Three points shy of claiming their UCL position next season can be easily achieved, should the likes of Sadio Mane be able to find their fine-form once again.