REUTERS - Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum says Saturday’s improved performance in the 2-0 Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur was a team effort and not solely down to the return to form of Senegalese striker Sadio Mane.
Mane grabbed the headlines with a first-half brace that guided a revived Liverpool past second-placed Tottenham, earning the Merseyside club their first league win of the year after a woeful run of results.
“He is really important but it is too much Sadio Mane now. Before he left for Africa we had good results... I don’t think it is fair to the other players to say ‘because of Sadio Mane we win’,” Wijnaldum told British media.
During Mane’s absence at the African Nations Cup in January and early February, Liverpool’s bid for the title collapsed as they failed to win any of their five league matches and dropped to fourth, 11 points behind leaders Chelsea after 25 games.
“Of course he is a great player but I think it is more about the team than only Sadio Mane. It is normal (that) if you have poor results without Sadio everyone will say ‘Sadio Mane’,” Dutch international Wijnaldum added.
“You have to get used to it but I don’t think it is fair. We did it in most of the big games but in other games we didn’t deliver. That was the biggest problem... Against the smaller teams we didn’t deliver. That was a bad thing.”
The victory at Anfield marked only Liverpool’s second win in their last 11 games and midfielder Adam Lallana credited a clear-the-air meeting hosted by captain Jordan Henderson for setting things in motion.
“He (Henderson) wanted it to happen. We knew as players we had to take responsibility. It was up to us to respond... There was a sense of everyone coming together,” Lallana said.
Liverpool next travel to face 17th-placed Leicester City on February 27.
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru