You would have been hard pressed to find many people associated with Liverpool Football Club who were satisfied with the final result when full time was called on the match between the Reds and Chelsea yesterday. While coming away with a point was probably not a disastrous result for Liverpool, there was palpable disappointment at letting yet another lead slip away. This was true for the players as well, as an animated Jürgen Klopp had to calm down a visibly vexed Sadio Mané on the pitch after the final whistle.
Mané was brought on as a very late substitute with just precious minutes left in the contest after Willian had leveled the score for Chelsea in the 85th minute. Cameras focused on the player and his manager sharing tense words and an awkward embrace as everyone was making their way to the respective dressing rooms.
It would have been easy to assume that the Senegalese forward was frustrated with coming on so late in the match, and with having mere minutes to influence the outcome of the proceedings. While there certainly may have been an element of this, Klopp was quick to downplay any sort of disagreement between the player and his manager, and indicated that if there was any dispute, it was mainly about positioning.
“I was shouting at him because he was in the centre, but no player is happy about that,” explained Klopp during his post-match comments. “I wanted to sort it immediately. He was not happy and he said to me Mo wanted to come into the position, but Mo had already 90 minutes in his legs so it would have made more sense that Sadio is closer to the right wing and can start the game from this position.”
“It’s not a big thing,” added the manager quickly, sensing the possibility that a molehill might be made into mountain by the press again. “We could have done it in the dressing room and it would have been the same thing. Everything is sorted immediately and that’s it.”
It remains to be seen whether and how Klopp rotates his squad for Liverpool’s next outing in this frantic flood of holiday season matches, which will see them visit Stoke City mid-week. The starting lineup for the clash with Chelsea raised a few eyebrows when it was announced, due to Mané and Roberto Firmino’s presence on the bench, but there will be precious little time to second guess that decision.