Jurgen Klopp has revealed that the secret to Sadio Mane hitting a treble against Porto in the Champions League last week is patience.
Although Mane has 19 goal contributions in all competitions this season, there have been a lot of questions about his form, with both fans and pundits curious about why the Senegal attacker has lacked his ruthlessness this term.
In the 2016/17 campaign, the former Southampton winger was easily the most exciting player to watch at the club and when injury and international commitments meant that he was absent for a few months, fans were bitterly disappointed.
After scoring a hattrick against Porto last week, however, it looks as though the Mane we all know and love is back and Klopp has explained how he has allowed the no.19 the time to get back into the swing of things.
Firstly, Klopp lauded Mane’s Champions League Player of the Week award for his superb performance against Porto.
“Well deserved, eh?” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
“It was so often that we spoke so positively about Roberto [Firmino] and Mo [Salah] – and Phil [Coutinho] when he was still here – and the ‘Fab Four’ and now the ‘Fab Three’ if that’s possible.
“Sadio had good games. He had a really good game against Manchester City not so long ago. It’s only that it was not his constant level that we are used to seeing.
“You think of Sadio Mane and he is very decisive, controls the ball well, he is a threat all the time for the other team, works hard and all that stuff.
“He has worked hard. For five or six weeks he has trained at a constantly high level. That’s the only way to come back into shape.”
Finally, Klopp explained how the coaching staff at Liverpool helped Mane return to his goalscoring best.
“It’s a mix of talking and leaving him alone,” explained Klopp. “The best advice is always your own. If you are not in your best moment, do you want somebody to come constantly to talk to you and say, ‘it’s quite difficult at the moment’?
“If you are convinced that it will come back then leave him. As long as he trains well, I’m used to it. I take what I get. They are human beings not machines, and their form [can] drop.”
Klopp added: “I know it’s quite difficult for supporters to accept that, but for me as a manager, it’s part of my job. If I’m angry all the time if somebody doesn’t perform like I expect, it’s not good for both – I could never be happy and the player is constantly in a situation where he feels under pressure, not only from me but from me as well.
“[It’s about] creating a situation where the player still feels comfortable and then go from there. If there’s no doubt about character, attitude and work-rate, you have to wait a little bit for it and then it will happen again.”