No problem Mane can't solve
The importance of Senegal star to Liverpool cannot be underestimated
Try as they might, Liverpool cannot shake off their one-man team dogma.
Attempts to fashion a side based on collective strength rather than individual brilliance have frequently fallen short at Anfield as stars, rather than squads, continue to define the club's fortunes.
Rafael Benitez once promised to build his Liverpool team around Steven Gerrard.
Instead, he inadvertently made the midfielder the focal point of shouldering the burden.
Brendan Rodgers was also guilty of an unhealthy reliance on Luis Suarez's glut of goals to bail his side out.
Now Juergen Klopp knows the struggles of his predecessors, after Sadio Mane inspired the Reds to a 2-0 win over Tottenham yesterday morning (Singapore time) - their first EPL win of the calendar year.
The Liverpool manager argued that clubs all over the world would also have felt the pinch of the Senegal winger's recent seven-game absence while appearing at the African Nations Cup.
Chelsea, Manchester City and others further afield may beg to differ, having soldiered through periods without their respective talismans, but 28 days devoid of Mane almost ended Liverpool's season.
Without the 24-year-old, Liverpool had been unrecognisable; they suffered three defeats and two draws during that time, in stark contrast to losing twice in 23 games before Mane's departure to Gabon.
Swansea City, Southampton and Championship outfit Wolves all walked away from Anfield clutching either maximum points or a cup scalp in the space of seven days at its nadir.
Within 20 minutes against Mauricio Pochettino's side yesterday morning, Mane had reinstilled a sense of order which could yet transform the Reds' listless campaign.
His bursts of pace were a catalyst to a side that had last managed to taste victory on home soil during the closing hours of 2016.
However, it is more than energy and a legitimate goal scoring threat which Mane delivers to a team which were previously flat-lining their way through the second half of the campaign.
His return has allowed Klopp to revert to the formula which, until last month, had served Liverpool so effortlessly.
It was only a matter of time before the previously formidable quartet of Mane, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino returned to its familiar guise.
Lallana's nomadic existence over the past month saw him forced to gravitate more towards the attacking berths in a bid to fill the void left during his teammate's international sojourn.
Mane's return allowed Lallana to return to the comfort zone of a well-stocked midfield line.
The England international rediscovered a relentlessness which had last appeared, following a lengthy absence, in fits and starts against Chelsea; coincidentally when his team mate had made a long-awaited return.
Georginio Wijnaldum was another key beneficiary of that domino effect, displaying against Spurs arguably his best performance since last summer's £25 million (S$44.3m) switch.
During Mane's absence, Emre Can has filled in in midfield, but with little effect, earning him the unwanted title of the club's "Rolls Royce" midfielder.
Where Mane has been a driving force, the German has often held Liverpool back with negligent defensive showings and pedestrian play.
Unlike others elevated by the former Southampton man's restoration, he cannot attribute it to the recent, month-long blip.
That in itself poses more questions than answers of Anfield's current squad imbalance, and even deficiency.
Klopp had remained adamant that his side would find solutions and that others would step up to the plate in the player's absence. But neither appeared to be forthcoming at the time.
For the first time in almost 15 years, Liverpool will finally need to prioritise the needs of the many over those of the few.
Klopp: Every team in the world would miss Sadio
Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp believes every team in the world would suffer without Sadio Mane after the Senegal star marked his return with both goals in the 2-0 win over Tottenham yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Mane, back from a month on international duty at the African Nations Cup, netted twice in three first-half minutes as Liverpool won their first Premier League match in 2017.
"You need somebody on the end who scores and he did fantastically well," said Klopp.
"He could have scored a third one. We missed Sadio in January, but every team in the world would have missed him."
Mane is now Liverpool's leading scorer with 11 goals after his two well-taken efforts - which could easily have become a hat-trick or even better - as Tottenham were swamped at Anfield.
"It was amazing," Mane told liverpoolfc.com.
"We are very happy to get the three points. It was not easy in the last few weeks, but it's football and that can happen.
"More important is the reaction - we did it and we're just going to try to keep going."
A host of pundits also sang Mane's praises.
It was amazing. We are very happy to get the three points. It was not easy in the last few weeks, but it’s football and that can happen. “More important is the reaction — we did it and we’re just going to try to keep going.Liverpool winger Sadio Mane
Speaking to BT Sport, former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said: "He's a terrific player, full of pace and unpredictability.
POOL'S MANE MAN
"And if he's in this kind of form maybe Liverpool will go on and win their final 13 games.
"You can't catch him because he's so quick with the ball."
Former England striker Ian Wright said that with Mane in the side, Liverpool posed more of a threat moving forward.
"Mane was the one with the extra bit of pace threatening in behind and so was Adam (Lallana)," Wright told BBC's Match of the Day.
"Liverpool weren't doing that recently and that's because Mane wasn't there.
"With the goal, Ben Davies had no chance trying to mark him what with his strength, pace and composure.
"He's excellent at sensing danger and nicking the ball.
"Tottenham couldn't deal with Mane - Liverpool were back to their top stuff." - WIRE SERVICES