It has been a difficult year for Sadio Mané, just a season removed from being considered one of the best players in the world. The Senegalese forward started the season out brightly, and was the stand out performer for the first few months. He scored four goals in the first three games, and was a constant threat throughout the fall.
Once the late fall rolled around, Mané’s form fell off a cliff. Or more precisely, his finishing went from room temperature to hovering around 0 degrees Kelvin (e.g. really, really,r really, really cold). The rest of his game was still solid for the most part. He has still been a threat on the dribble, and Mané is never one to shirk his defensive duties. Still, Liverpool have desperately needed goals, and he has been one of the biggest culprits for spurning big chances. He is currently sitting at 8 goals in the Premier League from an xG of 12 according to Understat. Only Roberto Firmino is further behind in goals compared to xG for the season.
This past weekend, it was more of the same against Newcastle United. Liverpool FC started strong after a 3rd minute goal from Mohamed Salah, but the team managed to miss chance after chance. Mané led the charge for Liverpool taking six shots, including a 1v1 chance with the keeper. He did not manage to convert, leading to yet another frustrating finale where Liverpool gave up late points yet again.
For Newcastle, Allan Saint-Maximin was a constant thorn in Liverpool’s side on the counter. The Frenchman displayed stellar close control, suddenness, strength, and vision on the dribble, similar to Liverpool’s Sadio Mané. After the game, a Liverpool fan
After the game, Liverpool fans joined in on offering praise to Saint-Maximin. One fan, however, went too far in praising him.
“Can you come to Liverpool and Mane goes the other way?”
Saint-Maximin fired back, asking this fan and others to put some respect on Mané’s name.
“I know you think it’s a nice message to me but I don’t like this. Be respectful to him please you are ungrateful, he did and he’s doing a lot for Liverpool, there still a long way before I could reach his level.”
I know you think it’s a nice message to me but I don’t like this. Be respectful to him please you are ungrateful, he did and he’s doing a lot for Liverpool, there still a long way before I could reach his level— Allan Saint-Maximin (@asaintmaximin) April 24, 2021
It’s a nice reminder that while fans are often fickle, the players know and respect talent. Props to Saint-Maximin for making a point to remind fans how good Mané is.
Despite a dismal stretch of finishing, Mané isn’t now a bad player. This season has been a grind for all, both mentally and physically. You have to imagine it has been even more difficult for Mané, who has been no family in the country, and has been effectively isolated outside of team activities. It’s always good to remember that players are just as human as the rest of us.