Martin King evaluates a left-sided partnership of Sadio Mané and Alberto Moreno.
Plenty of positive talking points came from Liverpool’s second game of their pre-season tour – a 5-0 victory over Fleetwood Town.
One of those talking points – which, to my surprise, has not received a lot of attention – was a newly-formed left-wing partnership, which kept Fleetwood defenders regularly running back towards their goal for 45 minutes. This partnership, oddly enough, consists of left-back Alberto Moreno and new signing Sadio Mané.
One is a heavily criticized defender whilst the other is a forward with high hopes (and a gargantuan price-tag) on his shoulder. However, Moreno and Mané share some good similarities. Although the two occupy different positions with different responsibilities, both possess blistering pace, are able to play on the left flank and have an exceptional appetite for attacking opposition defenders.
On Wednesday, both were in the starting eleven and combined brilliantly in the first-half before manager Jürgen Klopp made full changes for the second. Moreno and Mané looked lively as they displayed a terrific understanding between each other. When one had the ball, the other ran forward into space and was more often than not guaranteed to receive the ball, which was then fed to teammates inside the Fleetwood box.
The one thing that new boy Marko Grujič’s first goal in a Liverpool shirt and most of the goal-scoring chances that were created in the first half had in common, was the fact that they all came from moves that began on the left wing – highlighting Moreno and Mané’s influence. They showed how effective a wing-based partnership can be for any side.
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It may be too early for me to make judgements or Klopp to make decisions but I think this partnership can work to Liverpool’s favour next season. The presence of Moreno and Mané can be vital in helping Klopp’s men break down sides who commit men to defend centrally, forcing the Reds to switch play down to the flanks.
Remember Moreno’s first goal for Liverpool? The Spaniard scored the third of three goals scored against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane two seasons ago. The significance behind that goal can be found in the fact that it was a self-made counter attacking move, which highlighted just how important having a player with pace and creativity can be to getting a goal from that situation.
With the pace of both Moreno and Mané at Klopp’s disposal, Liverpool can turn defence into attack quickly and with a better final ball from both men, plus a clinical touch in front of goal, the Reds can score goals which could prove to be crucial for the outcome of any match.
There’s obviously no doubts over the attacking qualities of Moreno and Mané, however, it’s the former’s defensive problems that may stand in the way of making this partnership continue into the new season. There’s still plenty of speculation linking the club with a new left-back but Moreno can still retain his manager’s faith and he will need to justify it with a lot of improvement.
Over the years Liverpool fans have been treated to some of the continent’s best partnerships like Suarez and Sturridge or (way before I was born) Rush and Dalglish.
This newly-bred partnership between Moreno and Mané may not even come close to the couple mentioned above but if Moreno can solve the defensive side of his game, it’ll surely be one to savour.