Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for Sadio Mane after Liverpool’s 5-0 win over Watford. Mane led the line for the Reds in a surprise decision.
Liverpool tore Watford to shreds on Wednesday, eventually winning 5-0 – a repeat of last season’s result.
Virtually every player had a noteworthy performance but Mane’s stood out in particular. That wasn’t necessarily because he was the best player on the pitch – although he arguably was – but more because of the role he played.
Roberto Firmino’s injury on Sunday left a void in Klopp’s team. Mo Salah was favourite to fill it, while Divock Origi & Daniel Sturridge offered more traditional alternatives.
Instead, it was Mane who Klopp chose to lead the line against Watford. The surprise choice didn’t take long to prove the boss right, either, as he bagged two inside 20 minutes.
Understandably, Klopp was full of praise for Mane after the game.
Klopp on Mane v Watford
“I didn’t see the back-heel [Mane’s second goal] properly, I am told it is special, but I loved the first one – jumping so high, in position, and it was clear he would help us in the build up but we needed him in the box as well and to he was there in good positions for us,” he said, according to the Mirror.
“I took the decision to play him [as a striker] immediately [after Firmino’s injury] – it was the first choice.
“It was a surprise with the goals of course, you can’t expect him to score like that, but we did expect him to play with movement and skill in the small space in the box and he did that so well.”
It seems as though Klopp now has another genuine option up top. Firmino and Salah have led the line throughout the season but Mane has proven his worth there, too.
He fit the bill perfectly, it should be said; this was no stop-gap. As Klopp said, Mane was brilliant in both the build-up and the box against Watford. It gives him a nice mix of Firmino and Salah – pace in behind but more likely to drop into the space than Salah.
The question now is whether Klopp goes with Mane up top against Everton. On this performance, it’s going to be difficult to resist.