Sadio Mane's genius Manchester United moment proves what Chelsea must do in transfer window


There is a frustration that Chelsea's attacking style of play under Thomas Tuchel can sometimes come across as quite sterile and predictable. As the German coach has prioritised a level of control through possession since taking charge in January 2021, there has been an aversion to taking risks, moving from a sliding scale of Frank Lampard's more unstructured patterns of play to more rigid forms of build-up.

The positives have been clear in results under Tuchel, but in the Premier League, there still are worries the gap between Chelsea and the top two is most reflected in the lack of productivity in the final third. moment that really summarised what Chelsea's current attack lacks was seen in Liverpool's 4-0 demolition of Manchester United last week.

Now it is fair to point out that United's own performance did massively lend a hand to Liverpool's attackers being able to run rampant, but the moment of genius that created the second goal was something you're highly unlikely to see at Chelsea.

Sadio Mane, with his back to goal, received a pass from Joel Matip after a rapid one-two between the defender and Luis Diaz. Mane instantly bent his right foot around the ball to float a pass over the head of Harry Maguire and into the path of Mohamed Salah.

It is a pass that likely goes wrong nine times out of 10. Mane under hits it, over hits it, or Salah potentially strays offside against a more organised defensive line. You also have to factor in the telepathic connection between Mane and Salah, two players who have been playing together under Jurgen Klopp since 2017.

Their understanding creates moments like these. But it is Mane's own bravery to try that pass and go direct when an easier pass to retain possession is available. As some Chelsea fans noted on Twitter following the game, in the Blues build-up, it would not be out of the ordinary to see Kai Havertz or Timo Werner in Mane's position play a pass back to Andrew Robertson in space.

The lack of risk in the final third remains evident when just glancing briefly over Chelsea's most recent match against West Ham. Two examples in the first half either showcase an unwillingness to play directly to the centre-forward in fear of losing possession or rigidly sticking to the known patterns of play, which generally look for the width of the two wing-backs.

Chelsea needs to invest in an attacker who can provide maverick moments in this summer's transfer window. Someone who will try that daring pass when most wouldn't disrupt a low defensive line with unpredictable trickery to open up space for others.

There also is the possibility that Tuchel is advising his current set of attackers against this, given we see a consistent resistance to playing direct, something Romelu Lukaku has suffered from this season.

So having the restrains loosened may also prove key to further incentivising Chelsea's game- changers to be bold and attempt that daring pass which has a very small margin for error but could win a game.

Post a Comment