Why Sadio Mane can guide Southampton to another Europa League finish this season
After Mauricio Pochettino left Southampton in the summer of 2014, many people believed that the Saints could be relegated at the end of the campaign. They lost a number of top talents last summer and people had already condemned Ronald Koeman’s men to a disappointing season. 18 months on, Saints are sitting pretty in England’s top flight and are unbeaten in their last four league matches.
They picked up a draw with a late Sadio Mane equaliser against Liverpool on Sunday to deny Jurgen Klopp victory on his Anfield league debut and played some scintillating football throughout the clash. While Southampton are looking in excellent nick once again, Mane is perhaps the man of the moment and is the focal point of their efficient attack.
Mane has been instrumental for Southampton this season and has relished the opportunity to shine in the absence of Jay Rodriguez. The Senegal international attracted plenty of attention from the likes of Manchester United this summer but opted to stay at St. Mary’s and is clearly enjoying his football right now.
In recent weeks, he has inspired his team-mates in key fixtures against both Swansea City and Chelsea – terrorising the Welsh side before causing problems for Gary Cahill and John Terry in a 3-1 away victory for the Saints. Mane’s talent is clear for all to see and he could be the difference-maker for Southampton throughout the campaign.
Result: Sadio Mane leads Southampton comeback to stun Chelsea at Stamford Bridge http://t.co/XrjbgPLSHd
— Oriol Romeu (@OriolRomeuDaily) October 5, 2015
Southampton’s supporters are perhaps treated better than any other fans in the Premier League. According to statistics from Fortune Frenzy, Saints’ average season ticket holders pay just £57 for every goal that Southampton have scored this season – an astonishing figure. Compared to a number of other top flight clubs, that is by far the best and fairest figure across the Premier League.
Their attacking unit is flourishing this season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Southampton continue to climb up the Premier League table and cause problems for opposing defences. Graziano Pelle is beginning to find his touch in front of goal and the return of Gaston Ramirez will only provide Koeman with yet another selection headache but offers a new dimension into the squad.
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 24, 2015
So, can Mane inspire his team-mates to push for the Europa League this season? Almost certainly. Southampton are more than good enough to compete against the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool for a place in the top six. Although both Leicester City and West Ham are currently sat near the top of the table, it’s quite likely that both sides will tail off towards the end of the campaign and Saints could profit from Liverpool and Chelsea’s lackluster starts to the campaign.
Sources: espnfc.com / fortunefrenzy.co.uk / twitter.com