At the beginning of the season, Sadio Mane was arguably the best player in the Premier League.
He won the August Player of the Month award and looked set to be our most important attacker, even with Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Coutinho (at the time) around him.
But following his red-card against Manchester City and a minor but niggling injury, he struggled in the run up to Christmas – the least productive of the now dismantled Fab Four.
For the first time since his 2016 switch from Southampton, there were murmurings of discontent from fans, but thankfully they’ve quietened down since the Senegalese flyer’s crucial goals against Burnley and Manchester City.
According to Jurgen Klopp, he never criticised Mane and just told him to focus on the good things he was doing, rather than the negative.
“Of course we had talks,” Klopp told the Echo.
“I cannot tell you what I told the player in a one-to-one meeting, but it was about what he did so far.
“Good, good, good, good, good. One or two things not that good, but the rest good. So let’s build on that and ignore the rest. That is how life is.
“You cannot think all the time about your mistakes because that makes no sense. You cannot forget all the good things.
“We are all a bit like that and sometimes people need help to realise again the good situation.
“He is in a fantastic situation where everyone loves him in the club. But he played from here and not from here (the heart and not the head) and nothing really worked out in the end.”
Interestingly, the boss spoke about that now infamous shot in the Merseyside Derby, where Mane went himself instead of squaring to a team-mate for an open goal…
“I like to be honest and I don’t want to say Sadio was brilliant when he wasn’t,” Klopp said.
“Everyone could see that he struggled a bit here, it didn’t look like it was too easy for him.
“After the Everton game when he didn’t pass the ball, everybody made a big criticism of him.
“I didn’t mention it to be honest. I didn’t mention it at half-time, I didn’t mention it after the game, it was not mentioned in any meeting because I saw in Sadio’s eyes that if he could turn the clock backwards he would do it.
“At that moment he was convinced he would score, he was a striker and a striker has to make a decision. I want him to make these decisions, but sometimes you have to accept that these decisions are wrong.
“I accept it, you have to accept it as well. As long as you don’t do the same in the next 20 similar situations so that people start thinking: ‘What’s that about?’
“You cannot play football without mistakes. He didn’t want to do it. Now he is completely different again.”
With Coutinho gone, it’s vital that Mane maintains form and fitness, as he’s our only real option for the left of attack.
At his best, he can score and make goals and drive at the heart of defences consistently.
Mane’s a phenomenal player and we think if he fancies it, he can get close to 20 goals for the campaign, sitting on nine from 18 starts at the moment.