John Gibbons: The demise of Sadio Mané has been greatly exaggerated

The Anfield Wrap writer has sent us a postcard from Porto…


Greetings from Porto where it has literally not stopped raining.

Scouse lads and lasses rubbing their hands together at the thought of some February sun had their hopes and dreams literally washed away by a downpour more associated with Manchester than Portugal.

More than one Liverpool fan was spotted in the crowd optimistically in shorts and flip flops having not checked the weather forecast and hoped for the best. My jeans were still soaking this morning.

Nothing like putting wet trousers on with a Super Bock hangover, let me tell you.

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Luckily, The Reds on the pitch were much better prepared for everything Porto had to throw at them, and instead they rained goals on their opposition. Defenders were left bamboozled by a front five full of pace, skill and life. It was Liverpool’s ball, Liverpool’s goals and emphatically Liverpool’s win.

In a complete team performance Sadio Mané still managed to steal the show with a hat trick.

The third was the pick of the lot and showed a confidence that has been lacking somewhat in his recent performances, where everything has seemed just a bit difficult for him. Compared with last season when it looked like the easiest game in the world.

That said the demise of Mané has been somewhat exaggerated. He’s still scored goals, albeit not quite as many, and nowhere near the numbers of his forward partners. But he’s also played a bit deeper and Mo Salah keeps kicking it in the goal instead of passing to him.

But forwards aren’t always firing and if they can still find a way to contribute when not, then great. As long as they don’t all lose form at the same time, Liverpool will be laughing.

Mohamed Salah is flying now but, as hard as it is to believe, one day he won’t. He might even not score for a fortnight. Then someone else will come to the party, probably Sadio. That is how a good team works.

Great footballers are remembered for their goals, with their dry spells forgotten. In my head Rush, Fowler, Owen and Torres scored every game, but the stats suggest otherwise. They will all have had tough days, weeks, even maybe months. It’s just more fun to remember it otherwise.

There is more to come from Mané this year and there is more to come from Liverpool too.

Whatever happens this season we’ve seen some exhilarating football. The game is designed to excite you and Liverpool have excited a lot.

It’s been a blast watching The Reds all year, no more so than last night. But the business end of the season is here now and we might have a shiny trophy to show for it all at the end of it.

Maybe even with a Sadio Mané winner. I’m not going to bet against it.

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What do you think?