Sadio Mane the artist as Jurgen Klopp's gamble turns into Liverpool masterpiece

Mirror Online Sports 4 days ago

No Mohamed Salah , no Roberto Firmino to start with, no problem.

Just when you thought Jurgen Klopp could not get any smarter, he comes up with this.

At first glance, it looked like he was taking the mickey, trolling the neighbours, taking a Merseyside derby lightly.

Maybe he thought this was the FA Cup fixture they have on their schedule. Maybe it was a disparaging nod to Everton’s record at Anfield and their current predicament.

But then, this. This masterpiece. A very flawed masterpiece but a masterpiece all the same.

The idea came from Klopp with a selection no-one predicted, the execution came from the beautiful brush strokes of Sadio Mane .

Sadio Mane (L) starred in Liverpool's win over Everton

Klopp’s choices were vindicated with wonderful goalscoring contributions from Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri in this tumultuous contest.

But it was Mane who painted his brilliance all across a chaotic canvas.

No wonder Lionel Messi, clearly as good a judge as a footballer, voted for Mane as FIFA’s World Player of the Year.

Centre-stage, Mane was simply unplayable.

The social media stew over Klopp’s selection had barely simmered down before Mane had deliciously plated up goals for Origi and Shaqiri.

There is more to Mane’s game than brilliant finishing, sprinter’s pace and deceptive strength.

Jurgen Klopp showed his appreciation for the forward at full time

The pass that gave Origi the opportunity to cleverly go past a rash Jordan Pickford - no surprise there - and score was visionary in the manner of, say, a David Silva.

And the same can be said of his assist for Shaqiri’s first time finish, although a thumb had to be raised in the direction of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pinged crossfield pre-assist.

Alexander-Arnold’s pass was typical of Liverpool’s full-back play - brilliant looking forward, vulnerable when forced to retreat.

It was no surprise when Michael Keane clipped a reply past Adrian after Alex Iwobi had whipped in a pass from the right.

But who needs the defensive nonsense when you can - as Alexander-Arnold did - take a pass from Mane, dash 50 yards and then return the favour for the Senegalese striker to hit a first-time, left-footed beauty into the bottom corner?

Mane scored Liverpool's fourth after earlier providing two assists

Before then, another defender, Dejan Lovren, had caught the Hollywood-pass bug and hit one half the length of the field for Origi to expertly pull from waist height and lob his second.

After Mane hit the fourth, humiliation beckoned for Everton.

That was to figure without that Liverpool carelessness in defence and a half-hearted Lovren clearance was returned by Bernard and Richarlison’s shoulder diverted home the sixth goal of a remarkable half of football.

There was always going to be little chance of the second period living up to the first and so it proved.

Marco Silva is now on thin ice at Everton after the defeat

Niggly and lacking in the boundless energy of the first, both operated with more caution, which was hardly what Marco Silva needed in his hour of need.

The writing is on the wall for Silva, if only in so much as whatever CAN go wrong for him, seems to go wrong.

That is not the best trait for a Premier League manager to have. Judging by their commitment until the end of proceedings, he has not lost the application or backing of his players but too many look lost, too many do not seem to understand his philosophy, his system.

And if they do not get him now, the likelihood of them ever getting him is slim. And none.

Had substitute Moise Kean not missed a sitter, Everton could have made a lively finale of things but ahead of that miss, Mane had squandered two glaring chances to add a personal second.

Not that his manager - especially as Georgino Wijnaldum collected a late fifth - will hold that against him.

Klopp took a gamble and thanks to his almost-perfect number ten, it paid off.


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