It’s a grim view from here at the start of Sadio Mané’s three match suspension following his sending off against Manchester City last weekend. It’s a difficult situation to face, Liverpool taking to the pitch for the next three domestic games without the speed, agility and form that Mané provides the team. His link up play with Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah has been excellent. So, too, is Mané’s prowess on the counter attack.
But such is football. Suspensions and using the squad depth wisely are just some of a manager’s many-sided dilemmas. Luckily, Liverpool have a fairly decent Brazilian attacking player who should be just about ready to start a football match after his bad back and bad decisions have cleared up.
“We have enough options,” said Klopp in preparation for Saturday’s match against Burnley. “Roberto already played left wing. Of course, Phil can play there. Of course, Alex can play there.
“We can change the system. We can do a lot of things.
“It’s always difficult to replace top class players in a really good shape. But we did it last year at the end of the season. We had to play without him and I think in most of the games we did really well.”
We did get into the Champions League so sure, I guess we did all right without Sadio during the run-in last season. The bigger issue is if Philippe Coutinho is ready for a start and to be supremely effective for Liverpool beginning tomorrow. We don’t need rust. Burnley will be all over our rust. Crumbling it and other such metaphors.
“He should be ready,” said Klopp.
“It was really nice how the crowd welcomed him. I think nobody was one hundred percent about this. I’m really happy that we were, as a Liverpool family, sensitive enough to do exactly like this.
“He trained outstanding in the few sessions we made so far together since he’s back. Yes, in the game he was not perfect but that’s how it is after a long break.
“But it helped him and it helped us. And so, for sure, he’s ready”
The positive reception for Coutinho was encouraging from the Anfield crowd. When he stepped onto the pitch against Sevilla he immediately had support from the fans. He was off and out of sync but, as Klopp says, that’s to be expected. More importantly, any anxiety over the dramatic hooey with Barcelona must now be shaken off. The past is gone and currently, instead of transfer theatrics, Liverpool need an excellent footballer to get his groove back.