Georginio Wijnaldum: Liverpool not a one-Mane team
Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum insists Liverpool are not a one-man team fired by Sadio Mane and it would be wrong to place the burden of saving their season all on him.
The Senegal international was back to his scintillating best as he scored twice in as many first-half minutes as top-four rivals Tottenham were blown away inside 20 minutes at Anfield.
During Mane's absence at the African Nations Cup Liverpool endured a wretched January, highlighted by the fact this was their first league win in 2017, and his return was hailed as being the cure to all their ills.
That did not quite transpire in last week's surprise defeat at Hull but the difference was evident against Spurs, although the performances by Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino played a pivotal part.
"He is really important but it is too much Sadio Mane now," said the Holland international of the talk.
"He scored two goals but also I think it has been about him because we had poor results without Sadio.
"Before he left for Africa we had good results, only against Sunderland (2-2 in Mane's last game before leaving) we did not have a good result.
"Last week we lost with Sadio Mane. I don't think it is fair to the other players to say 'because of Sadio Mane we win'.
"Of course he is a great player - he helps us with his speed and he scores goals - 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'.
"If it was another player like when Phil was injured, if we had poor results then everyone would have said 'Phil Coutinho'.
"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.
"In the first half of the season we did show it against the small teams too but in December and January it wasn't a good month.
"Against the smaller teams we didn't deliver. That was a bad thing."
During their miserable January, which also saw Liverpool exit two cup competitions, manager Jurgen Klopp refused to blame his players for poor performances.
Instead he reiterated his belief in their quality and stressed his methods did work and they would rediscover their form.
Wijnaldum said that faith was welcomed by the players.
"It is really important because if a manager says the same (as the critics) in the situation we were in it would kill the confidence of the players and that is not a good thing," added the Dutchman.
"When you are a team you have to believe in each other, you are a kind of family and if one of yours says 'you're not good enough' or what the media has been saying that is not a good thing.
"He believes in us and I don't think he just said it because he wanted to keep the confidence, I think he truly believes it as well. That gave us a good feeling."