You know me, I love a bit of controversy and passion, so I wasn’t concerned at all when Sadio Mané spat his dummy out when he was substituted towards the end of Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Burnley yesterday.
The 27-year-old was furious when he was hauled off and not just because he was p*ssed that team-mate Mo Salah had selfishly refused to pass to him during an attack. Mané, unhappy at being hooked, let rip when he approached the bench which naturally sparked a debate about his behaviour.
Obviously the Sky Sports commentators and pundits gave their opinions during and after the event which you’d expect, as too did the Match of the Day panel later that evening. Jermaine Jenas in particular had a bit to say.
The former Newcastle and Tottenham man said: “Your team-mates are feeding you consistently, he (Salah) has to pass that ball.
“Firmino is in acres of space and it’s an easy ball but he’s trying to swing his foot from twenty yards out. That’s not what this Liverpool team are about. This is why Mane has absolutely lost it. He’s going ‘just slide me, I slide you in every week’ but he doesn’t and ignores him.”
Fair enough. Jermaine is hardly being over the top with his views about Salah as some have tried to suggest and it is the job of the pundits to give us something to think about, but it really wasn’t a big deal in my eyes. I would actually welcome that passion each week. I’d rather see our players carrying on like that than trundling off the pitch towards the bench thinking only about their pay cheque. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t want unrest in the camp but that’s clearly not the case here.
It’s no secret that Salah and Mané are highly competitive and there’s even been suggestions in the past that Mané is slightly envious of the attention that Salah receives. Well-placed sources at Melwood, however, insist that the duo get on great and that it’s nothing more than a bit of respectful competition between the two.
Yeah it spilled over yesterday but to be honest, that’s exactly what I want to see. I want to see players that give a sh*t about being substituted and I want them to be p*ssed when they feel they could have collectively done better. The more angry and the more disappointed they are, the more the fans can relate to them.
The media can try and make a big deal about it but as the manager and the skipper have stated, it was much ado about nothing and all it shows is that Mané cares.
There are no issues in the squad, we just finally have a group of players that care and that want to give 1 billion percent. It’s easy to identify the best players in the game but it’s harder identifying players who have ‘great character’, as Brendan Rodgers would say. Klopp has been able to create a squad hungry for collective and personal success and this is a quality that maybe goes under the radar a little as we often tend to only judge on silverware and exciting signings. Don’t underestimate this manager. He wants players who are hungry for success and not just just a lucrative pay packet e.g. Matthijs de Ligt. He should be applauded for this.
If Mané and the rest of the troops continue to play as we are doing, the Liverpool winger can grab who he wants by the throat and throttle them the next time he feels hard done by.