Ian Wright has blasted sections of the Liverpool fanbase for questioning Sadio Mane’s form this season and hailed the forward for showing up for his team when they needed it most.
Mane had been one of the chief targets for criticism in the Reds’ side during their difficult campaign, along with strike partner Roberto Firmino.
Teammate Mohamed Salah very much carried the torch in terms of goalscoring, netting more than both players combined and 15 ahead of Mane, who was the club’s second highest scorer.
But all three played their part as the season drew to a close, with Mane scoring two crucial goals in the final day victory over Crystal Palace to help Liverpool finish third and secure Champions League qualification, leaving Wright confused that anyone had ever doubted the Senegalese frontman.
“Mane ended up getting them where they needed to be. I was reading stuff where fans were having a go at Mane, I couldn’t believe it, especially when you look at the amount of time it took Firmino to get going,” the ex-Arsenal star said on his podcast, Wrighty’s House.
“Mane for major parts of the season last season and the season before, where they only missed out [on the league] by one point.
“What that man has done for that club. For him to get the stick he was getting, I don’t believe it. I think that must be bots. There’s no way Liverpool fans would be having a go at that man.
“He came to the fore again when Liverpool needed him, scored a couple of goals, to finish it off.”
Despite Wright’s defence, Mane himself recently admitted he had been performing below the level expected of him.
“This is the worst season of my career. I have to admit it,” he told French television channel Canal+ earlier this month.
“If you ask me what is wrong I will struggle to give you an answer. Personally, I don’t know.
“I have always tried to be positive, whether things are going well or badly. I question myself all the time.”
The 29-year-old even revealed he had undergone tests on his body to try and work out what the issue was, but found nothing of concern.
He still finished the season with 16 goals to his name, and was third highest in Liverpool’s team for assists with eight.
But his frustrations did boil over after Liverpool’s win over Man Utd at Old Trafford, though, as he refused to shake boss Jurgen Klopp’s hand having been started as a substitute.
Klopp revealed Mane apologised soon after and the Liverpool boss insisted he had little issue with the incident.
The future of Liverpool’s front three has been under scrutiny this season however, with many feeling Klopp should consider bringing in a fresh face in the summer to provide added competition.
Do Liverpool’s front three need replacing? Let us know your thoughts below.