Sadio Mané’s Bayern Munich lift-off has hit turbulence. A barren spell of goal contributions has coincided with the team’s scoring troubles and shock slide down the Bundesliga table — where they currently sit fifth — and has fed a frenzy of questions about the tactics, direction, and locker room harmony at Säbener Straße. It hasn’t helped that the man he replaced, FC Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski, has continued his scoring apace.
But amid various reports of discord and finger-pointing, here is a breath of fresh air: leadership by example from Bayern's new man, who is self-critical and self-focused. Per Sport Bild, via @iMiaSanMia:
Sadio Mané is thinking a lot about his situation. As a leading player, he assumes criticism, doesn't look for excuses and understands when the coach subs him off. Mané is annoyed that he's currently not showing what he capable of [@SPORTBILD] pic.twitter.com/bpDe0BvU9x— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 27, 2022
This is the epitome of pointing the thumb and not the finger. More than that, the existence of this report — from the same outlet that sourced and then published various rumors about discontent with playing time, system, or coach — might well be seen as a public, pointed rejoinder, and an alternative example of how to handle the tough times.
The report goes on to mention that Bayern's three captains — Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, and Joshua Kimmich — “often look for contact with him and see him as one of the leaders”. Impressive recognition for someone who only arrived in the summer transfer window, but nonetheless in a short time has slotted himself seamlessly into the team.
Football-wise, there’s surely an adaptation period with any move, and while Mané has demonstrated tremendous ability, intelligence, and initiative, he can probably develop his chemistry better as time goes on.
But rough spells happen to any player — Tottenham’s Son Heung-min endured a total goal drought before uncorking three worldies in one half against Leicester last week — and Sport Bild adds that Mané is no stranger to these from his times at Southampton and Liverpool.
And so he carries on, full of self-belief, with the love and support of his teammates — all while setting the standard for the rest of the squad. You love to see it.