Southampton were worthy winners at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, but now face the daunting prospect of the ‘Champion’s Elect’ Chelsea on Sunday.
There were plenty of positives for Ronald Koeman to take from the win at Palace though that should give everyone a boost before facing Jose Mourinho, Diego Costa, Edan Hazard and a host of other star players.
1) The Resurgance of Sadio Mane
Mane was impressive in his first few games for Saints, but as the teams form dipped so did his and he took the brunt of the blame in the stands. The problem with a winger of his style is that when things don’t come off they look poor. Any player that takes on defenders and uses pace and trickery is going to mess it up on occasion and they aren’t in the team…
Unlike the Belgian, Mané is lesser known in the UK but has had high profile links to Arsenal in the past, and it is believed he was a target of some bloke called Pochettino at Spurs this Summer. A Senegal international, Mané has made his name in Austria playing for Red Bull Salzburg, scoring a hefty amount of goals for a winger.
With Saints crying out for some pace and natural width Mané looks to be just the kind of player we have been missing. I spoke to Josh Bloom a Red Bull Salzburg regular on what Sadio will bring to the team.
It’s came from nowhere, but this seems to be a very good signing for Saints. What can we expect from Mané?
JB ‘Mané is a pacey, exciting, wide right forward/winger – who will cause defences a few problems. It was always felt he had become too good to stay in the Austrian Bundesliga, he deserves his move. I watched him tear Bayern’s full strength back line to pieces in January in a friendly. Several clubs have been monitoring him for a long time.’
Any specific strengths and weaknesses?
JB ‘He’s very quick, and has a trick or two. He will be very exciting to watch and will rack up the assists. However he does go to ground easily, and for a man who breaks through the line often, he should score more than he does.’
Do you think he will be able to adapt quickly to the Premier League?
JB ‘ I expect him to have an immediate impact, and will come up to speed quickly. He may need to bulk up a bit to deal with the physical nature of the Premier League, he can get knocked off the ball too easily. That said he is very, very fit. Salzburg play a high pressure, high tempo 4-2-4 system in which he runs his socks off.’
Is there another player in England you think he is similar to?
JB ‘He reminds me of Theo Walcott – when he’s on form, he’s unplayable, when he’s having a bad day you want to pull your hair out – not because he’s playing particularly poorly, but rather you know he could influence play more than he does.’
With the outgoings at Saints this Summer, many have suggested there is a lack of ‘ambition’ at the club. With Mané being linked to bigger clubs in the past, does this signing refute that?
JB ‘I think that’s his level actually. He needed to leave the Austrian Bundesliga, his only real tests were coming in European games. He’s still young – bigger teams will be keeping an eye on him to see if he sinks or swims in a decent league. Good signing for Saints, especially when he easily could have gone to a ‘bigger’ German club.’
So there we have it Sadio Mané marks the end of a brilliant turnaround at St. Mary’s this Summer, and for me it would seem Ronald Koeman has built a very good squad with his kitty. Thanks to Josh for the help.
Bring on Newcastle!
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