So Senegal lost to Cameroon on penalties in the African Cup of Nations quarterfinals. The news headlines have all been about Sadio Mané and how Liverpool chartered a private jet to get their key player back in time for a crunch Premier League game against Chelsea.
Some Liverpool fans were sorry to see Senegal exit the competition and offered commiserations…
Others were #sorrynotsorry that Senegal was out, because that meant Sadio was heading back….
Some were more honest and didn’t commiserate at all, but expressed happiness that the Senegalese lynchpin was heading back to Liverpool….
But the best were those who were unapologetic and also a bit confused about where Sadio’s home is….
It’s easy to point out that since Sadio Mané departed for the Afcon tournament, life has not been particularly rosy for Liverpool football club. The month of January has been a monthus horribilis for the Reds as they have played eight games so far, winning one, drawing three and losing four. The team has definitely missed the pace, movement and intelligence of the Senegalese star who strikes fear into the heart of opposition defenders.
But it surely all can’t be down to one man? Other reasons have been put forward including suggestions that Liverpool have been found out, a lack of decent support for the starting XI, Klopp’s tactical miscalculations and lack of transfer dealings.
The other factor that Jurgen Klopp has previously complained about is the good old English tradition of fixture congestion. The problem with that argument, as Klopp has discovered, is that everybody else in England has exactly the same problem. And this argument is further weakened by the lack of European football at Anfield this season.
One reason that has also been touted is the injuries to key players at certain stages of the season – Coutinho, Matip and Henderson have battled with injury which would have an impact on the rhythm of the team. The reigning Premier League champions Leicester City were particularly fortunate last season with no injuries to key players, and the current league leaders Chelsea are also benefiting from a clean bill of health with their starting players.
Having said all of that, the simple truth of the matter is that Liverpool are in the middle of a slump – all teams have their slumps at one stage or another. Chelsea had a blip at the start of the season, Tottenham also stuttered earlier on in the season and Arsenal will have theirs in February/March as they always do.
One thing is for certain – the very same Liverpool fans who were busy crowing that “this is our year” when Liverpool were winning earlier in the season, are probably the same ones now saying that Liverpool need to replace Klopp and the entire team as soon as possible.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.