Ian Wright says that he “couldn’t believe” the amount of criticism Liverpool fans gave struggling winger Sadio Mane this season.
The Senegal international has his own case to be Jurgen Klopp‘s best signing since his arrival. He hit the ground running with a fantastic debut goal against Arsenal, while contributing countless vital goals since. Overall, he has netted 97 strikes in 218 games for the Reds in his time there.
As a result of his consistent form, the 2020/21 campaign has easily become his least effective at Liverpool.
Mane scored 13 Premier League goals, which is not his lowest in a Reds’ top-flight campaign. But while he netted only 10 in 2017/18, he scored 10 Champions League goals to fire his side to the final.
The lack of fans has proved his biggest enemy this term, shown by his fantastic performance in front of 10,000 as Liverpool clinched their top-four spot last Sunday.
Mane has faced criticism for his drop-off this term, but Wright says he cannot fathom fans doing so for a player who has proved his worth. Indeed, he made a comparison with Roberto Firmino, also struggled for form before scoring crucial goals.
“Mane ended up getting them where they needed to be,” the pundit told the Wrighty’s House podcast.
“I was reading stuff where fans were having a go at Mane, I couldn’t believe it, especially when you look at the amount of time it took Firmino to get going.
“Mane for major parts of the season last season and the season before, where they only missed out [on the league] by one point.
“What that man has done for that club. For him to get the stick he was getting, I don’t believe it. I think that must be bots. There’s no way Liverpool fans would be having a go at that man.
“He came to the fore again when Liverpool needed him, scored a couple of goals, to finish it off.”
Salah emerges as standout Liverpool man
Mohamed Salah has proved the only consistent player in Liverpool’s trademark front three this term.
The Egyptian scored 31 goals, the most of any Red for the fourth successive season – and in each of his campaigns at the club.
Diogo Jota has added another dimension, but injury halted his progress in the middle of the season.