Sadio Mane has been on a tear in the second half of the season. While most attention has been paid to last year’s Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah (and his current goal drought), Mane has quietly equaled the Egyptian’s season goal-scoring tally of 20 (in total) and 17 (in the league).
The shift to Mane as the main goal-scoring threat for the Reds has come quickly, with the Senegalese international scoring 11 in his last 11 in all competitions.
However, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is not surprised by this recent rich vein of form from Mane.
“Sadio played pretty much always like this but now he is always in the right spot in the right moment. In football it’s sometimes like this,” Kloppo told the club’s official website.
“The only thing he did when he was not always in the right spot was work and work and work. That’s exactly what Mo has to do, exactly the same: just work, do the right things and it will come again.
“He’s just rather unlucky, where Sadio is lucky in the moment – he is in brilliant shape, that’s true.
“But then, he is in the right shape and maybe a yard away from him is Mo, but somebody else scored; the cross from Robbo [at Fulham], I’m pretty sure Mo would have scored if Gini doesn’t get the ball. These moments… I was a striker, I had that as well, you think, ‘Oh’ and then somebody else missed the chance. That’s how it is, all good.
“But, of course, it’s a brilliant moment for him [Mane].”
Klopp is right about several things here, including the way he’s handling Mo’s current goalless run. The message is clear: keep working hard, and the goals will come.
He knows that Mane’s current “hot hand” (or rather, foot) will soon revert to the mean, as will Mo’s current cold streak. However, by continuing to get into dangerous situations, the odds of scoring drastically improves across the board.
We have seen several instances in recent weeks of one teammate or another inadvertently getting in the way. As Klopp referenced, we’ve seen Gini take an easy back post header off Mo. We’ve seen Lallana block a pass into Mo’s feet in the box. We’ve seen Mane miss from about 2 yards when Robbo was right behind him for the easier finish.
It is frustrating in the moment, but all of this is because midfielders and defenders are joining the attack in numbers, creating dangerous situations that will lead to goals.
Fans have accused both Mane and Salah of being wasteful with big chances in the past. Of course they are, to a degree. All footballers are. Scoring goals is difficult business. But both players are continually managing to work themselves into dangerous positions, which is all you can ask from them.
Hopefully Mo reverts to the mean while Sadio is still bangin’ ‘em in for fun. It could be a memorable end of the season if both players are in form.