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Old 06-04-21, 10:43 PM   #2121
Pepe79
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He’s been really bad recently, but I’ll offer up this.

Watching the season documentary (I forget what it is called) and after the first lockdown they ask Mane how it was. He points out how tough it had been and particularly for him as a single guy in the city. I think this may have been an issue for Taki also, single moving to a new city, new language then - boom - lockdown within 6 weeks.

I think typically he has family and friends flying over and back throughout the season, and that’s just not possible. So if he is not happy, or as happy, as he would be then that small drop off of even 5% takes him down from the world class levels he has been operating at.

I think the pandemic has played havoc with many things, but there are many more human aspects it is easy to forget. Imagine how shit the last few months must be if you live on your own.
Have to consider the effect that actually having coronavirus may still be having on him too. Salah shook it off, but Mane and Trent have both struggled since having it.
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Old 06-04-21, 10:47 PM   #2122
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Thing is we've had a crazy couple of years. 3 European finals, the biggest trophies, accolades, contracting covid and ultimately little proper rest. For what Mane, Klopp, etc, have given us everything this season is a bonus. Have a rest, let's get our main players back from injury and go properly next season.
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Old 06-04-21, 11:14 PM   #2123
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Originally Posted by Buzzo View Post
He’s been really bad recently, but I’ll offer up this.

Watching the season documentary (I forget what it is called) and after the first lockdown they ask Mane how it was. He points out how tough it had been and particularly for him as a single guy in the city. I think this may have been an issue for Taki also, single moving to a new city, new language then - boom - lockdown within 6 weeks.

I think typically he has family and friends flying over and back throughout the season, and that’s just not possible. So if he is not happy, or as happy, as he would be then that small drop off of even 5% takes him down from the world class levels he has been operating at.

I think the pandemic has played havoc with many things, but there are many more human aspects it is easy to forget. Imagine how shit the last few months must be if you live on your own.
Rory Smith said recently he knows for a fact there's a couple of very high profile players suffering in a big way with this issue this season. He has good contacts at LFC and I was sure he meant at least one of our players. Mane could be a good shout.
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Old 06-04-21, 11:19 PM   #2124
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Rory Smith said recently he knows for a fact there's a couple of very high profile players suffering in a big way with this issue this season. He has good contacts at LFC and I was sure he meant at least one of our players. Mane could be a good shout.
I think we forget that the fears and worries that we all have had over the last year will exist with these guys. They have vulnerable relatives in some cases, or, in others are stuck on the other side of the planet from their families all alone. Playing in front of empty stadiums.

Some groups will prosper but the dynamic must be miles off in others.

It’s not really a press worthy ‘excuse’ in the testosterone fuelled world of elite football, where no mental weakness can be offered. But it is a fact of life.
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Old 09-04-21, 10:11 AM   #2125
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From the Athletic.

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Three goals in 23 league games: explaining Sadio Mane’s shocking Liverpool Slump

James Pearce

When Sadio Mane was asked how his Liverpool team-mates would describe him in three words he went for “happy, funny and confident”. The Senegal attacker is Jurgen Klopp’s eternal optimist. He’s usually wearing a megawatt smile that radiates positivity.

But it was replaced by a scowl during Tuesday’s chastening Champions League quarter-final first-leg defeat at the hands of Real Madrid. Mane, who didn’t have a single attempt on goal in the space of 90 minutes, endured a night to forget.

Jurgen Klopp accused German referee Felix Brych of having “something personal” against the 28-year-old after failing to penalise Lucas Vazquez for a shove on Mane just moments before Real scored their second goal. Booked shortly after for losing his rag and chopping down Vazquez, Mane retreated into his shell and his influence on the contest waned.

It wasn’t a one-off. Mane’s dwindling output has gone under the radar somewhat in the analysis of Liverpool’s struggles this season but it’s certainly a factor. Having scored 20, 26 and 22 goals in all competitions over the previous three campaigns, this time around he boasts just 12 and two of those arrived against Aston Villa’s youth side in the FA Cup.

In the Premier League, the drop-off is even starker. Mane has only netted seven times in 27 league matches in 2020-21. He has gone eight league games without a goal since the win away to Tottenham Hotspur in January and has only scored three in his last 23 league appearances dating back to October — a crazy statistic for a player of his calibre.

Less than 18 months ago, Lionel Messi voted for Mane in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards and insisted the 2019 African Footballer of the Year was unfortunate to finish fourth in the Ballon d’Or behind him, Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo.

His development under Klopp since his £34 million move from Southampton in the summer of 2016 had been constant. He’s put himself firmly in the world-class bracket. He shared the Premier League golden boot with team-mate Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with 22 league goals in 2018-19 — an achievement all the more commendable considering he doesn’t take penalties.

Mane was equally as impressive on Liverpool’s march to Premier League title glory with 18 league goals and a flying start to this season, which included match-winning performances against Chelsea and Arsenal, fuelled the debate over whether he was arguably Klopp’s most valuable attacker.

However, in testing circumstances, it’s been Salah rather than Mane who has consistently delivered the goods to keep the club’s season alive. The Egyptian has led the way with 27 goals in all competitions, including 18 in the league. Even taking into account Salah’s seven penalties, that’s some gap between their respective tallies given that, in recent years, they have largely matched each other with their displays of attacking brilliance.

So why the drop-off for Mane? Is he missing more chances or is he just not getting them? Have his standards slipped or is he a victim of circumstances beyond his control?

First, to explore the change in Mane’s performances this season compared to last season, we can look at his smarterscout profile. Smarterscout is a tool that uses advanced metrics to give players a rating from zero to 99, based on either how often they perform a specific action and their effectiveness in various actions, compared to others playing their position.

Overall, his stylistic profile is similar to 2019-20, but there are some interesting differences between last season, above, and this season, below. The first difference is that he is more likely to dribble with the ball this season (carry and dribble volume: 83 out of 99) and a little less likely to play a short, simple pass (link-up play volume: 69 out of 99). Indeed, his 5.3 take-ons per 90 is the highest he has attempted since his debut season at Liverpool (5.5 take-ons per 90 in 2016-17).

It suggests that despite Liverpool’s struggles in recent months, Mane has not shied away from getting on the ball to try to make things happen. However, his lower rating for ball retention ability this season (56 out of 99) highlights that he’s giving possession away more often. By looking to go alone more and perhaps force the issue at times, he’s losing the ball as a consequence.

The second difference is actually an increase in Mane’s shot volume this season (82 out of 99). Here, smarterscout measures shot volume as the propensity to shoot per total touches of the ball.

If we look at Mane’s shot map from last season, he averaged 2.5 shots per 90. The average quality of those shots (xG per shot) was 0.18, meaning the chances he got would be worthy of one goal every five shots — the joint-highest in the league for a wide forward alongside Raheem Sterling.

This season’s shot map suggests Mane’s performances in front of goal have not exactly fallen off a cliff. The notable difference is that he is indeed shooting more (3.0 shots per 90) but the average quality of his shots is slightly lower (0.14 xG per shot) — still good enough for the fifth-highest in the league for a wide forward.

Furthermore, he is actually taking more touches in the penalty area per 90 minutes this season compared with last season. This might be influenced by the fact that Liverpool have been facing a lot of deep-lying defences and have been chasing games so often since the turn of the year, but it still shows that he is involved in the attack as much as he ever has been.

Taken together, it appears as though Mane’s underlying numbers have not significantly faltered this season. His 0.43 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes is the highest for any wide forward in the Premier League, meaning his chances are worthy of nearly one goal every two games — no different to last season. Put simply, he is still getting into great areas and having high-quality chances to score.

However, the problem lies in his conversion this season. Mane comfortably exceeded his xG in the past two seasons, with 0.64 non-penalty goals per 90 in 2018-19 (from 0.44 xG) and 0.59 non-penalty goals per 90 in 2019-20 (from 0.45 xG). However, this time around, that figure has slumped to 0.28 non-penalty goals per 90. Put another way, Mane averaged a Premier League goal every 140 minutes in 2018-19 and every 153 minutes in 2019-20. This season he’s averaging one every 323 minutes. Diogo Jota has outscored him in the league despite playing 1,530 fewer top-flight minutes.

This is the most that Mane has underperformed against his xG since he arrived at Liverpool nearly five years ago. For context, only Chelsea’s Timo Werner and Aston Villa’s Trezeguet have underperformed their xG more than Mane this season among wide forwards in the Premier League.

The graphic below acts to represent Mane’s form in front of goal, showing when he is scoring at a higher or lower rate than expected. To do this, we take a rolling average of the past five games he has played and trend this over time to see when there are peaks and troughs in his performance. We can see that Mane’s slump has been most stark in recent months, coinciding with Liverpool’s disastrous run of results following the turn of the year that saw them go from top spot to the fringes of the top-four race.

He has certainly suffered from the lack of fluency and tempo in the team’s attacking play. The upheaval due to the injuries at centre-back has led to Klopp’s full-backs not being able to fly forward with the same regularity. As a result, Mane’s partnership with Andrew Robertson down the left flank hasn’t looked as threatening. The interplay between them hasn’t been as incisive.

Fatigue is bound to be an issue. Robertson leads the way in terms of Premier League minutes this season with 2,666. Mane is fifth among the Liverpool players on 2,260 behind Salah (2,434), Georginio Wijnaldum (2,363) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (2,313).

However, the mental side is arguably more significant than the physical. Having worked so hard to improve his finishing with extra drills after training in recent years, the lack of goals this season has started to prey on Mane’s mind.

At times he’s been guilty of snatching at chances or over-thinking when openings have come his way. Staff at the AXA Training Centre also believe he’s been on the receiving end of some unfair treatment and as a result, his confidence has been dented.

Southampton away in early January was one example. Mane was convinced that he should have had a penalty after being brought down by Kyle Walker-Peters but his protests were ignored. “What Andre Marriner did with Sadio Mane tonight, I’m not sure that’s OK, to be honest,” said Klopp, who was furious that other challenges against Mane also went unpunished at St Mary’s.

Mane was criticised by pundits for going down too easily, five days after staying on his feet and not winning a penalty when Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow grabbed his leg during a goalmouth scramble at St James’ Park.

There were similar incidents against Sheffield United, Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers when he was clipped inside the box but didn’t go down as he tried in vain to score. Staff were baffled by Michael Owen’s bizarre suggestion that Mane’s motivation was that he didn’t want Salah widening the goalscoring gap between them from the penalty spot.

“You won’t find a more selfless or honest footballer than Sadio,” one senior club source tells The Athletic. “Everything he does is for the team. It’s just difficult for anyone to take when you get criticised for staying on your feet when you’re fouled and then criticised for going down when there’s clearly contact.”

Pep Guardiola labelled Mane a “diver” last season and there’s a fear that he’s been unfairly judged by officials since.

At times, Mane has been unfortunate. At home to Tottenham, he expertly rolled away from Serge Aurier and hammered against the bar. He also saw a looping header against Fulham strike the post. Against Manchester United, referee Paul Tierney blew up early for half-time when Mane had been put through on goal by Xherdan Shaqiri’s pass.

But on other occasions, he has been horribly wasteful. In last month’s defeat by Chelsea, he should have restored parity from Salah’s inviting cross but after timing his run perfectly, he completely fluffed his kick.

There were two neat finishes in each leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against RB Leipzig but he hasn’t been able to break a three-month domestic drought. He could have had a hat-trick against Wolves recently but fluffed his lines.

The goals may have dried up but Mane’s intensity out of possession remains unchanged. He presses from the front as much as ever. His 7.5 pressures per 90 minutes in the attacking third are a carbon copy of last season.

He is also getting a foot in as frequently as before. When adjusted for possession (per 1,000 opponent touches), Mane’s 5.0 “true” tackles — which includes tackles plus challenges lost plus fouls committed — is the fifth-highest of any wide forward in the league this season. Put simply, this isn’t down to a lack of effort. If anything, he’s been guilty of trying too hard and composure in front of goal has largely deserted him.

“When you are a fighter you never try to make excuses, we are here to find solutions,” Mane said recently. “Being together with my team-mates always gives me high energy. There is the attitude and belief that everything will change. Stick together, be positive and fight. I am more proud than ever to be a Liverpool player.”

This is the first real downturn of Mane’s Liverpool career but he’s too good for it to last. His back story is a tale of triumphing in the face of adversity so his strength of character is undisputable. So is his talent, humility and work ethic.

The challenge for Klopp is to help lift the weight off Mane’s shoulders to get the goals flowing again.
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Old 09-04-21, 10:43 AM   #2126
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That’s an unnecessarily long winded way of saying his finishing has gone to shit.
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Old 09-04-21, 11:26 AM   #2127
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There were some nice pie charts and other illustrative graphics to help illustrate the point and break up the narrative.

It's true thought, the article doesn't hint at any reasoning at all.
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Old 09-04-21, 11:44 AM   #2128
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What I took from it is that Salah is a machine.

Second highest amount of PL minutes played amongst our squad, along with playing in the cups and for his country, throw in having had covid and the guy is still tearing around the pitch producing elite numbers.

Physically and mentally he has been immense.
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Old 09-04-21, 01:22 PM   #2129
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That’s an unnecessarily long winded way of saying this finishing has gone to shit.
Surely you knew that when you read:

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From the Athletic.
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Old 09-04-21, 07:08 PM   #2130
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That’s an unnecessarily long winded way of saying his finishing has gone to shit.
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Old 09-04-21, 07:08 PM   #2131
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What I took from it is that Salah is a machine.

Second highest amount of PL minutes played amongst our squad, along with playing in the cups and for his country, throw in having had covid and the guy is still tearing around the pitch producing elite numbers.

Physically and mentally he has been immense.
he's an absolute beast
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