Two Cup exits and three home defeats in just eight days have left the ‘Heavy-Metal’ Liverpool from the beginning of the season feeling heavy-headed after so many unexpected and disappointing blows.
A couple of factors have contributed to Liverpool’s dire straits as the current situation has much more to do than with just Sadio Mane’s absence.
Still, with Senegal out of the Africa Cup of Nations after the quarterfinal shootout against Cameroon, Sadio Mane’s return could be a spark to get Liverpool back to winning ways.
My Man Mane
Senegal star Sadio Mane has been one of the best – if not the best – players for Liverpool in the 2016/17 season thus far.
The summer recruit from Southampton made a compelling impression in his first season with the Reds – exceeding my expectations – and a sense of excitement every time the Senegalese would take the ball to his feet was arguably the perfect tribute to Jurgen Klopp’s heavy-metal football.
The 24-year-old’s electrifying performances in 2016 have yielded 9 Premier League goals in 19 appearances and 4 assists, making him a stand-out performer in Klopp’s title charging side.
With the Senegalese departing to the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this month, the questions have been raised over what kind of effect his absence would have on the Reds.
“I will be wishing the team good luck, but without me they will be the same. Even better I think. They will cope. Philippe Coutinho will come back. Joel Matip will come back and Daniel Sturridge is back now”, enthused Mane on his way to Africa.
It is funny that mane chose those exact players to mention and highlight as it was exactly his choice of words which summed up Liverpool’s woes to the fullest, unfortunately.
As the Wolves defeat is still having all of us Liverpool fans scratching our heads, it is Klopp’s baffling team selection that raises a couple of questions as well. Mane is just one part of a bigger problem, the one Klopp is still unable to solve.
The Reds were expected to bring in a direct replacement for Mane and add an attacking flair to the squad, which would have been even more beneficial once Mae was back in the team. Spartak Moscow star Quincey Promes was highlighted as one of the top targets for Reds and although that deal is still on the cards, it could end up being well overdue.
Mane’s absence was just one part of Klopp’s selection problems as the Reds struggled with FIFA over Joel Matip’s availability for the good part of January. Coutinho’s late return to full fitness was another problem for the Reds while the third mention in Mane’s farewell message – Daniel Sturridge – is just a story to himself.
The England forward is not seen as the ideal Klopp player and could very much relive the ill faith of former fellow striker Christian Benteke.
Departure is being mooted in the British press and although he is unlikely to leave in January few people would end up feeling surprised to see Sturridge pack his bags at the end of the season.
Lack of World-Class Players
Jurgen Klopp is finding it difficult to follow the exact model which yielded success at his previous job with Borussia Dortmund. It is quite simple really, Klopp has no time to wait on the prospects to reach full potential and his talented kids are losing the pace compared to well-established players which are slowly coming great together at the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea above all.
And whereas Manchester United in example are forging plans to boost their squad with one Antonine Griezmann, Liverpool are reluctant to spend big and are being linked to more and more less prominent players.
Klopp’s promotion of players such as Trent Alexander-Arnold is commendable and extremely positive in the long-run, but I am afraid Klopp might not get the chance to wait them out as the established players if he continues with below-par results at Liverpool.
Fans are beginning to lose patience, some are calling for the German to be sacked, and although I still regard Klopp as the perfect Liverpool man, something needs to be changed.
The Board should come forward to offer their public support for the manager at the crucial moment which – with Mane being expressly returned to the fold – could be just the spark to get Liverpool flying again.
The Red are standings in front of a season-defining moment right now.
With their top 4 spot in real danger, Klopp’s men are preparing to welcome raging Chelsea in a game they are given 13/8 betting odds to grab three points. Having already stunned Chelsea to a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge, Klopp will want to repeat the feat and help his side back up on their feet.
And the German should be given all the support in the world to do so.
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