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‘Firmino & Mane way short of the mark’ – Liverpool legend concerned by ‘drop-off’ in Salah’s absence

5:05 PM GMT+8 21/10/2019
Sadio Mane Fred Man Utd vs Liverpool 2019-20
Jurgen Klopp’s side were far from their free-flowing best against Manchester United, with Steve Nicol spotting a noticeable dip from two star forwards

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were “way short of the mark” against Manchester United, says Liverpool legend Steve Nicol, with the dynamic duo not the same without Mohamed Salah alongside them.

There have been plenty of occasions in which a fearsome attacking trident has been broken up, with it impossible for niggling knocks to be avoided.

Jurgen Klopp has fared admirably on the whole whenever a key part of his plans has been ruled out of contention.

He did, however, see Liverpool fall well below their free-flowing best during a trip to Old Trafford.

Mane saw a first-half goal ruled out by VAR, while Firmino had sights of the target, but they were unable to deliver the kind of spark which had carried the Reds through 17 successive Premier League wins.

Adam Lallana was required to step off the bench and salvage a point in a 1-1 draw, with the absence of Egyptian talisman Salah hitting Liverpool harder than they would have liked.

Former defender Nicol admitted as much, telling ESPN FC: “Whenever Salah comes out for whatever reason and you’ve got [Divock] Origi coming in, the drop-off is very big.

“Sometimes you can get away with it if you have Firmino and Mane at their best.

“But Firmino and Mane were way short of the mark.

“We all talk about Firmino and how he ties everything together, but everything fell apart when the ball went near him.

“Look, not a good day, but they definitely missed Salah.”

Salah missed out against United after failing to shake off an ankle problem he picked up prior to the international break.

It remains to be seen when the 27-year-old will be ready for a return to action.

Klopp told Sky Sports after being quizzed on the absence of a two-time Golden Boot winner: “Mo was not ready, that’s how it is.

“He couldn’t train with the team; I don’t know where it came from that everybody said he will play. There was pretty much no chance, maybe for Wednesday, we have to see.”

Liverpool are set to take in a midweek Champions League clash with Genk, before then heading to north London for a Premier League date with Tottenham on Sunday.