Sadio Mane may have lacked consistency this season, but Jurgen Klopp has never doubted the value of a key member of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Three’.
The Senegal international opened the 2017-18 campaign in style, netting four times in seven appearances for club and country.
He then went eight games without finding the target – a run which started with a red card in a 5-0 mauling at Premier League leaders Manchester City.
There have been other dips since then, but a hat-trick in the first leg of a Champions League last-16 encounter with Porto has seen Mane lift his standards back to the level being produced on a regular basis by fellow forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool boss Klopp told the club’s official website on the talented 25-year-old: “It was so often that we spoke so positively about Roberto and Mo – and Phil [Coutinho] when he was still here – and the ‘Fab Four’ and now the ‘Fab Three’ if that’s possible.
“Sadio had good games. He had a really good game against Manchester City not so long ago. It’s only that it was not his constant level that we are used to seeing.
“You think of Sadio Mane and he is very decisive, controls the ball well, he is a threat all the time for the other team, works hard and all that stuff.
“He has worked hard. For five or six weeks he has trained at a constantly high level. That’s the only way to come back into shape.”
Mane’s debut campaign at Anfield saw him net 13 times, in what was considered to have been another productive season.
He now has 12 efforts to his name this term, with Klopp revealing that he has opted to take a step back from a man who needs little instruction – rather than look to constantly drag top performances out of him.
“It’s a mix of talking and leaving him alone,” explained the German tactician.
“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.
“[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.”