Writing for the Daily Mail, Jamie Redknapp says he believes Pep Guardiola is scared of Sadio Mane and the damage he could do to Man City’s defence.
“Hearing Pep Guardiola mention Sadio Mane and diving was surprising. It is unusual to hear a manager say that about a rival player, but I don’t think it was Guardiola trying to wind up Mane ahead of this Sunday’s showdown at Anfield. It wasn’t an attempt at mind games, or a deliberate dig,” said Redknapp on the Daily Mail website.
“I believe Guardiola genuinely fears the threat of Mane. The Manchester City manager has him on his mind. He knows the 27-year-old is now Liverpool’s most important player. He is Jurgen Klopp’s No 1 man, as proven on Saturday.
“In the 65th minute against Aston Villa, with the league leaders losing 1-0, Klopp took off Mohamed Salah. It was a big call, but it paid off. Mane made sure he got his head to the ball, even as Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia was trying to get his boot to it first. What a big, brave goal.”
Sadio Mane now has 10 goals in all competitions this season and despite not playing to his best ability at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon, he managed to assist Andy Robertson’s equaliser and score the winner in the dying minutes of the game.
While Guardiola would never admit it, Mane is a player that has the ability and, this weekend, the opportunity to deal his side’s Premier League ambitions a crushing blow.
With Mohamed Salah apparently struggling for form after his ankle injury against Leicester interrupted his rhythm, Mane is dragging his side forward in the title race.