Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed he will sit down with Sadio Mane to discuss the winger’s angry reaction at the end of the 4-2 win over Manchester United on Thursday – but is confident all will be resolved without issue.
The Senegalese attacker was dropped to the substitutes’ bench for the clash at Old Trafford despite netting two goals in his previous three matches.
Mane only came on for the last 16 minutes as the Reds ran out deserving winners thanks to efforts from Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino – who scored a brace – and Mohamed Salah.
Firmino was the man to displace Mane in the starting line-up and the forward was clearly disappointed at the decision after the full-time whistle although the Brazilian was a vital component of the Merseyside outfit’s first win away at their bitter rivals since March 2014.
The 29-year-old refused to high five his manager and threw tape towards the floor as he walked off towards the dressing room visibly frustrated at not starting.
Klopp played down the incident and said afterwards: “Yesterday I made a late decision in training, really late, and changed Diogo for Sadio and my players are used to it that I explain that but I didn’t do that yet…
“And in that moment I remembered it again, so yes, Sadio was obviously slightly angry, but that’s all.”
And speaking one day on, Klopp confirmed that he had not spoke to Mane about it yet but would do so, and insisted he has no real issues with the attacker’s actions, which he said were simply in the heat of the moment.
Speaking in his pre-West Brom press conference on Friday, Klopp explained: “Football is an emotional game. Everyone expects from us that we control our emotions always.
“And that doesn’t work out always, that’s the case. It happened to me as a player. It happened to other players when I was their coach.
“We had so far no real chance to talk about it but we will. There will be nothing, everything will be fine.
“Do we want these things to happen? No. But it’s not the first time in my life and I’m afraid to say probably won’t be the last time. That’s it.
“If somebody shows me five million times respect and one time not, what’s more important? The world is in a situation where you make this one time bigger than necessary. That’s unfortunately the case.
“I hope for you your boss will not forget if you one time don’t show him respect all the other stuff. Even now, I can see the headlines which you’re making of it, but that’s not the case.
“I’m completely relaxed about that. If you would have seen me as a player, what I did out of emotion, it was insane!
“And I’m a completely normal guy. It happened to me. It’s nothing else. We’ll talk about it then it will be sorted.”
Liverpool legend Graeme Souness was not quite as calm in his reaction and criticised Mane for what he felt was the African being “disrespectful” towards his manager.
“It’s never happened to me, so I can’t tell you what I’d be like in that situation, but I would not be happy,” the ex-Liverpool captain said.
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“I think he should’ve shook his hand. He doesn’t want a cuddle, doesn’t want to be loved by Jurgen, but he should show a bit of respect.
“It’s disrespectful to the manager, disrespectful, most importantly, to the football club. Of course he’s not happy at being left out, but can he really argue? He’s not had a great season.
“How could you argue with the fact he’s been a sub and Liverpool have won here at Old Trafford 4-2, which is not a happy hunting ground for them.”
Liverpool return to action against already-relegated West Brom on Sunday (4.30pm) and know three wins from their final three games could clinch them Champions League qualification for next season.
Klopp added: “Our last three games are really tough from different points of view. What Sam [Allardyce] did at West Brom deserves respect.
“They got points, not enough we have to say that as well, but the way they played was completely different and they made brilliant signings.
“They were really good and I know when all the pressure is off because it’s now decided they can’t stay in the league, that can give you some good feelings to express yourself and just play football.
“That can lead to everything. We have to be really, really focused, prepared and strong to make our things happen. It’s a tricky one.”