Jurgen Klopp has claimed he never felt the need to criticise Sadio Mane during the Senegalese winger’s so-called barren spell.
Before last week’s Porto thumping, Mane had fallen into the shadows somewhat while Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino were pulling up trees, but in the Champions League, he took centre stage once again.
The 25-year-old scored a hat-trick, which included a stunning thunderbolt third which capped off a brilliant individual performance.
According to Klopp, Mane’s level in training suggested this kind of performance was always just around the corner.
“It’s a mix of talking and leaving him alone,” Klopp told the official website.
“The best advice is always your own. If you are not in your best moment, do you want somebody to come constantly to talk to you and say, ‘it’s quite difficult at the moment’?
“If you are convinced that it will come back then leave him. As long as he trains well, I’m used to it. I take what I get. They are human beings not machines, and their form [can] drop.
“I know it’s quite difficult for supporters to accept that, but for me as a manager it’s part of my job. If I’m angry all the time if somebody doesn’t perform like I expect, it’s not good for both – I could never be happy and the player is constantly in a situation where he feels under pressure, not only from me but from me as well.
“[It’s about] creating a situation where the player still feels comfortable and then go from there. If there’s no doubt about character, attitude and work-rate, you have to wait a little bit for it and then it will happen again.”
Mane doesn’t seem the kind of lad who would react well to a public dressing-down or a private telling off – so this seems like brilliant man-management from Klopp.
He’s a shy, humble man, but possesses incredible talent and physical attributes.
Against Porto, he wondered off his wing much more and swapped positions with his other forwards. We hope this continues, as he’s at his weakest on the left.