A Sky Sports pundit used the same term three times when insisting Liverpool won’t be the same without Sadio Mane, and explained why it may take months for the Reds to reach top speed.
Liverpool opened their campaign with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Fulham. The Cottagers appeared to want it that little bit more than Liverpool, something that drew a fierce response from Jurgen Klopp post-match.
Liverpool entered the season with a few key differences in their squad, primarily in the final third.
Darwin Nunez has taken Sadio Mane’s place in the front three, while Fabio Carvalho will offset the exits of Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi.
Nunez has made it two in two for Liverpool after backing up his Community Shield goal against Man City with an equaliser against Fulham.
However, the absence of Sadio Mane was felt with Liverpool failing to pressurise Fulham as they would’ve been expected to do with Mane in the eleven.
Indeed, Mane, now of Bayern Munich, was often the spark for Liverpool attacks when winning back possession or forcing mistakes from opposition defenders deep in their own half.
Obviously, his absence was not the only factor behind Liverpool being made to settle for a draw, though it’s undoubtedly a contributor.
The warning signs were there pre-match when the Sky Sports Soccer Saturday panel ran the rule over Liverpool.
Months before Liverpool see best of Darwin Nunez
When asked by Jeff Stelling if Liverpool are actually weaker this term, pundit Kris Boyd tripled down on the claim Mane in particular is a “massive miss”.
“You look at Liverpool and there’s no doubt Mane is a massive miss,” said Boyd.
“Yes they’ve brought in Nunez, but it’s going to take time for him to get up to speed with the Premier League.
“Mane is going to be a massive miss, there’s no doubt about it. People speak about Raheem Sterling leaving Man City, he didn’t play every week.
“Sadio Mane was one of the first names on the teamsheet every week, he is going to be a massive miss for them.
“I think Luis Diaz has already shown he can perform but you just feel as though Liverpool in that front area could be weaker for a number of weeks and months until Nunez gets up to speed.”
If Boyd is correct and Nunez – and by extension Liverpool – take a while to get going, Man City may already be out of sight when the mid-season break for the World Cup comes around.