John Aldridge has jumped to Sadio Mane’s defence after the forward’s tantrum in Liverpool’s comprehensive win over Crystal Palace and claims he has ‘no problem’ with players wanting to stay on the pitch and score more goals.
The champions solidified their lead at the top of the Premier League table with an outstanding performance at Selhurst Park but much of the talk after the 7-0 victory surrounded Mane’s reaction to being substituted.
The Senegal international – who scored in the first half to take his personal tally to five for the top-flight campaign – appeared livid as he trudged his way off the pitch to be replaced by Mohamed Salah for the final 30 minutes in south London.
But Jurgen Klopp brushed off Mane’s behaviour after the final whistle and Liverpool great Aldridge has followed suit and insisted the attacker’s obvious frustration at being taken off was actually a good thing.
‘I’m made up when players don’t want to come off, I used to do it all the time,’ Aldridge told the Liverpool Echo.
‘I never wanted to come off, especially for Ireland. Jack Charlton always used to take me off with 15 minutes to go in a lot of games and I used to hate it and have a little go at Jack.
‘But he knew what was best for me and I’m sure Jurgen has told Sadio, ‘I’m protecting you, I need you, you’re vital for me. I just don’t want you to get over-worked or injured.’
‘That will have been the only reason and it was great to see his reaction because he’s hungry for goals. He’s not been scoring lately and he’s got his first goal back, that’s all it is. He wanted more and I have no problem with that.’
Klopp decided to start Salah on the bench after the Egyptian talked up a move to Spain prior to the win at Palace.
And while Aldridge was not surprised by Salah’s comments, he said he personally would have ‘hated’ Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos after the 2018 Champions League final.
‘If you’re a player of Salah’s quality, you’re always going to be linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona and other such deals. Harry Kane will be the next one as Tottenham fall away. That’s just the way it is,’ he added.
‘Sadio Mane is talked about too. We’re talking about one of the very best forwards in the world. Mane, Salah – they’re always going to be linked with Real Madrid.
‘Personally, I think after the experience of the Champions League final and the way Ramos treated him, I’d have had a hatred for Real Madrid if it was me, after that incident. It wouldn’t appeal to me but I wouldn’t want to leave Liverpool anyway.
‘But Liverpool have got the best front three in the world, that goes without saying. Tottenham have got a fantastic front three and there’s other clubs as well, but you wouldn’t swap Salah, Mane or Roberto Firmino for anyone.’