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.

Life, the 2nd chance and Jurgen Klopp

I am good with dates. I vividly remember it was 26th May 2018. I had my final exam of Engineering life and Liverpool were set to face Real Madrid for the UCL final. The build-up to the game wasn’t ideal for me personally. I had already received 3 rejections for my MS applications. For some reason, I built up a mental image that “Everything can’t be bad” and LFC are gonna lift the 6th. That obviously didn’t happen. After the final, a dejected Jurgen Klopp said back then: “This is not the end, only beginning”. But I kinda refused to believe it. This was a golden opportunity that LFC lost.

I remember waking up on the 27th. Never felt worse in life. Had nothing to look forward to. Engrossed in despair. On the 29th something changed. I wake up to my Twitter notifications at 5:30 AM. Liverpool FC have signed Fabinho. Out of nowhere. A type of player Klopp has never signed before. That made me thinking, I should probably change my approach too. And I started preparing for GATE. The point I wanted to reach was still the same, but the path changed a bit.

The following season (2018-19) Liverpool were on fire. But it seemed that this was going to be another “So close but yet so far” kind of season when Barcelona beat us 3-0. Klopp, however, clearly had different plans. I will never forget his press conference before the return leg of Barcelona: “If we can do it, wonderful, If not, let’s fail in the most beautiful way”. Liverpool did the unthinkable. Defeated Barca 4-0 and then went on to become the European Champions for the record 6th time. Meanwhile, I had another rejection from ISI Kolkata before joining Jadavpur University for a similar course.

Fast forward to 2021, Liverpool FC have lifted the 1st Premier League and 19th League title. Klopp has made the dreams of millions come true. I am also in a much better place than I was back in 2018 March. Over the years, days after days, when I had nothing to look forward to, I have taken my much-needed inspiration from Jurgen Klopp. I have learned so much from his general approach to life. I am now quite comfortable in accepting things that I am not good at. But the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from Mr. Klopp is this: Life really provides you the 2nd chance if you work for it (I think Klopp has said something similar too). Jurgen Klopp is the living embodiment of the ‘2nd chance’ that many doubters refuse to believe. I used to be one of them too. But he has changed me from a doubter to a believer, just like he promised. Thank you, Jurgen Klopp. You’ll never walk alone.

An ode to the champions: Liverpool 2019

Kiev was a disaster, pain and despair
Dream of the 6th was diminished, beyond repair
“Will never win a final” said everyone
“Not the end, only beginning” proclaimed the Normal one
Starting of 2019 wasn’t like the previous one
Even though Napoli, PSG and Bayern were undone
Then the Reds faced Porto, a sense of Deja Vu
6-1 in two legs and Liverpool went through
Barcelona in semifinal, maestro Messi’s might
3-0 at Camp Nou gave agony, nightmare and plight
Salah, Firmino were out; final seemed a distant dream
But it was Jurgen’s Redmen, not your ordinary team
“Let’s fail in the most beautiful way” said the German gaffer
Destiny smiled back, as football God wrote a love letter
Kop sang the anthem as time stood still
Gini and Origi scored a brace, LFC won Four Nil
Then it was time for Madrid, the final game
Liverpool won 2-0 as Origi rose to fame
Almost a million welcomed the team, overjoyed and full of glory
Merseyside saw Red invasion, from Penny Lane to ‘Beatles Story’
It was 14 years since Turkey, 35 since Rome
With a Liverbird upon their chest, they brought the cup back home.