Rutwiz Kulkarni explains why Sadio Mane is the best signing from 2016.
The Reds ended their trip to Goodison Park on a high with an injury time winner against their bitter rivals Everton. On a night with more lows than highs, Liverpool proved yet again that they are capable of grinding out results even on a bad night. One of the main talking points, though, was Sadio Mane’s injury time winner.
After being linked with every other attacking player in the summer and Mario Gotze opting for his former club Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp went on to sign Sadio Mane from Southampton. There was a debate about his transfer fee with every news outlet having their own version but it was believed to be around £32 million.
Although everyone was aware of his quality, everyone looked at him as ‘not Mario Gotze’ and were skeptical as the Merseyside club has a history of failed big money signings. Little did we know that he would go on to become one of the signings of the summer in Europe.
Mane’s signing, surprisingly, didn’t break the internet like Christian Benteke’s signing. What was different for this instance was the presence of Jurgen Klopp. Since the day he arrived, his every quote, every press conference, every interview has been anything but negative. Even after their worst days, astonishingly, the German still manages to bind the fanbase together. He knows what the fans want to hear from the manager that they worship.
It might go unnoticed but according to me, Klopp’s biggest achievement since he arrived at Anfield has been the way he has distributed the weight on a player’s shoulder throughout the team.
On a day when everything seemed to go wrong, the fans used to look up to the likes of Suarez, Gerrard, Torres and more recently, Coutinho and Sturridge. After a humiliating defeat, it was easy to find a scapegoat for a bad performance, but now, the entire team is blamed for their shocking performance and the whole team is lauded for a wonderful display. We don’t look up to one player anymore but we look up to the team as a whole.
Mane has hugely benefited from this altered mentality among fans. He has already scored eight goals and is the top goalscorer for the Merseyside club. Even on a day when the Senegalese international doesn’t score, he isn’t slaughtered by the media or the fans. Not just Mane but this has been the case for everyone.
If this is not convincing enough then try imagining Wijnaldum scoring just once in almost half a season, Firmino not finding the net in a handful of games, bottling a two-goal lead and losing the game and Sturridge injuring himself yet again, a year ago. These were the perfect ingredients for the fan base losing their minds a year ago but instead of whining over the negatives, we’re all talking about the solutions and it has worked wonders.
Liverpool sit second on the table just six points behind leaders Chelsea with almost half a season on their hands. If the coach, the players and the fanbase keep up the good work then its safe to say that dreams are going to turn into reality sooner than ever before.