The Man. The Myth. The Mané.

Whenever I come across the name Sadio Mane, his pensive smile comes to my mind. Followed by his first goal in LFC colours. Mane anticipated a ball from the midfield, got past two Arsenal defenders before galvanizing the whole Emirates stadium. That goal had everything: pace, power, and precision. But for me, the goal and the official arrival of Mane signaled something else. It was the beginning of something. It was the beginning of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Mane’s beauty vs Arsenal, 2016.

Over the course of time, Sadio would become a fan favourite and eventually an Anfield legend. Mo Salah’s arrival in the following season would mean a redistribution of goals but Mane never failed to perform.

Sadio Mane’s numbers for The Reds are staggering, to say the least. Liverpool have never lost when Sadio has scored in Anfield. That is 56 games. He has found the back of the net in PL (for both LFC and Southampton) 111 times. That is 9 less than Steven Gerrard and 7 more than Didier Drogba. He even won the golden boot in 18-19 when LFC came 1 point short of the title (just like this 21-22 season).

Even after all this stat, Sadio meant something different. He was the start of something beautiful. He was the beginning of the Klopp era. Even the Arsenal match that I have posted above, that was the “Heavymetal” Klopp football. Liverpool would go up 4-1 with that Mane’s goal but bottle the lead to end the game 4-3.

Liverpool had Salah with him, one of the greatest goalscorers of this generation. But even when Salah failed to provide the relief, the Red faithful would seek a helping hand from the Senegalese international. The UCL final of 2018. The last-minute goal vs Aston Villa in 2019. Or even the late winner vs Everton in 2016 (without Salah). The list is just endless when Mane rose to the occasion.

His departure is not merely the departure of a world-class footballer but it is also a new beginning, just like his arrival was. It is the beginning of the end. The end of the core that Klopp had built in his initial years. The bunch that was instrumental in winning the CL and PL (and every other trophy). Origi and Gini have already left. Next year Firmino is leaving for sure. Salah’s situation is also dicey. It will be interesting to see how Klopp rebuilds his side as he will be here for 4 more years. One thing is for sure though, he won’t have another Sadio Mane.

Like Father, Like Son

I have been told by many relatives that I have a striking resemblance to my father. But lately, I have noticed that I have picked up a habit that my father had picked up in his mid-30s. This has been happening totally voluntarily.

My Father is a die-hard East Bengal (EB) fan. He used to go to all the home games in the Salt Lake Stadium. There have been seasons where he hadn’t missed a single home game of EB in the Yuva Bharati Stadium. But suddenly, around 2003-2004, he stopped going to the stadium. It stopped completely. And he never went back until the 2018 Kolkata League Derby when his favorite Subhas Bhowmick was back at the club (ironically, that was the last time Subhas Bhowmick would coach the Red and the Golds). He even started following Chelsea massively when Jose Mourinho was at the club, and he followed them up until the Don Carlo era. Still, I have noticed that over the years his interest has declined. The work pressure increased and the passion for football decreased simultaneously.

Now this disinterest in the game is something that I have been feeling for a year or two. Specially when it comes to European Football. Previously, I would stay awake up until 4 AM. I would watch the game, read the press comments after that, and fight with others about the match result on WhatsApp. Nowadays, I skip late-night matches like anything. I am more than happy to watch the extended highlights the next morning while having my morning coffee. And this has further increased since I moved to Bangalore. The thought of being grumpy while working due to less sleep puts me to sleep very easily. Since moving to Bangalore, I have watched very few matches live late-night: Liverpool-Inter, Italy-Macedonia, Milan Derby, Inter-Juve final, etc. I have even skipped the FA Cup final because I had TCS10k the next morning.

I simply watch a match and move on with my life. I used to think Football is life. Nowadays, there are many things that have far more importance than Football. The only constant in football has been East Bengal FC. Even if I am missing a match due to some work, I still keep looking at the notification bar for updates. This again has a similarity with the way my father would receive the match updates.

Even though he had stopped going to stadiums, he would still watch and follow EB’s matches closely. When he would be at the work, I would call him at regular intervals to give him the updates of a match, I would work like an archaic Fotmob or OneFootball app on which I rely for updates. The work and circumstances might have (and had) subdued the passion, but it hasn’t (and hadn’t) destroyed it completely. The reason for that, I feel is simple. This is the club I started supporting because of my father (and my grandfather and my uncle). I didn’t pick East Bengal. East Bengal picked me. And the affection for the color, crest, and club will probably be there for a long time. Just like it is still there with my father in a minimal fashion. Like father, like Son.

Does the ending matter?

I was watching the Wong Kar-wai classic “In the mood for love” again and when this famous scene came up, my mind immediately went to a different place. I started thinking about a blog post I read a while back and even saved it in my notes.

“Today I chanced across a photographer’s profile on Instagram, whose entire body of work centred on artistically blurred images. No not random shaky ones. A subject and surrounding, all blurred around the edges, separate and yet intertwined by an inseparable bond. Much like the mind and the heart. Much like abrupt beginnings and endings. All rolled in one, yet separate and yet again, together. A beautiful mess. After all, isn’t that what life’s supposed to be?”

This coupled with the endings of “In the mood for love” prompted an important question for me: Does the ending matter?

There is a great Ted Talk on how Math helps us understand the world better. I strongly relate to this idea and often, I try to correlate different things in life with Mathematics. Wrote a similar blog post more than a year back.

Now coming back to the topic. In simulation theory, we have two types of models: discrete and continuous. In short, for discrete models, the state variable changes a countable number of times, whereas, for continuous simulation, the state variable changes every moment following some conditions. I used to think that life is like a long continuous event where the change happens in every moment. But lately, I have been thinking, that it is more like the summation of several discrete events.

Significant changes in the state variables (life events) direct our lives. More than the slow continuous changes, it is the abrupt changes that help us take a path. It can be the moment where one may decide to change the course of a career, end a relationship, or start something new. These points in the lifetime will act as the pivotal points where the system changes its course. And for these discrete events, the endings don’t really matter.

More than the end point of a particular discrete event of life, what matters more is the state trajectory (which is a function of time) it follows while that event was simulated. If that has an uphill trajectory for most of the part, and the ending condition is provided by the designer (that it is not forced by any external events), then endings shouldn’t really matter much.

And in this way, I feel the movie is special. The designers (Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow) put the ending condition of their simulation models. There were no external forces that directed it like most other movies. The model ran its course. They started something without realizing the end. But in the end, the end didn’t matter. Truly a masterpiece.