Liverpool winger Sadio Mané was in action for Senegal this weekend, helping his national squad to a 2-0 victory over Cape Verde Islands during World Cup qualifying and notching an assist in the win. Mané will almost certainly feature for Senegal again next month, when they take on South Africa in a tantalizing contest for neutral observers. For Liverpool supporters, it will be yet another occasion to grit their teeth and hope no harm comes to the influential winger.
It’s a testament to Mané’s ability that he has managed to become so important to the Liverpool squad so quickly after coming over from Southampton. Since opening his official Liverpool account in breathtaking fashion at the Emirates, Mané has chipped in with another two goals over the first seven matches of the Premier League campaign. Jürgen Klopp’s side are currently joint top-scorers in the League with eighteen goals, and have outpaced even the Rodgers 2013-14 squad that came so close to a title.
Mané has been quick to credit his teammates for his early success, and recently also offered some thoughts to the club’s official magazine on the system in which he operates, and on the freedom which Klopp gives his attackers:
“It’s a system where everybody knows their job. Roberto, Coutinho, Studge, Adam… we know each other’s game.
It’s become easier for us thanks to working on it and we are enjoying playing this way. Whether I’m starting up front or out wide isn’t really the most important thing.
The manager says be free and then get into dangerous areas where you can hurt the opposition.”
The interplay and understanding among that attacking cadre has not only made for some thrilling football in this young season, it has allowed the squad, and to some extent the supporters, to operate with the belief that the absence of one or two key pieces won’t completely hobble their goalscoring chances. It also helps to have Georginio Wijnaldum, Divock Origi, and Danny Ings as additional options if needed.
That interplay and understanding will be tested when Liverpool take on Manchester United following this international break, possibly without Adam Lallana, who has been a big part of the club’s early success. The opposition will be wary of the in-form Mané, but will also have to make sure they account for the equally fluid and dangerous Firmino, Coutinho and Sturridge. If Lallana can somehow recover in time, it promises to be quite the encounter.