Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has admitted it was "difficult" to be named on the bench for the showdown with Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday but has played down any suggestions of tension between himself and manager Jurgen Klopp.
The Senegalese star was only introduced into the game as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw and at full-time he could be seen involved in a heated discussion with the coach.
"It was not easy for me," said Mane, per Aaron Flanagan of the Daily Mirror. "It was a difficult moment. But it's part of football and it can happen."
Speaking with Sky Sports, the 25-year-old was also asked about his exchange with Klopp at the final whistle. But he insisted the conversation was due to confusion as to where he should be utilised on the field.
"He [Klopp] asked me to play on the right side and one time I tried to ask for the ball in the No. 9 position," he said. "Mo [Salah] was on my side and the coach was shouting 'Sadio come onto the right side.' After the game I told the coach it was easier if you told Mo to come in because he was close to you. But it was friendly, it was not because I was unhappy or something else."
As we can see courtesy of Goal UK, Klopp also admitted that Mane was not pleased about the situation:
The decision to leave Mane on the bench for the game raised some eyebrows among Liverpool supporters.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was drafted in to play on the left flank against the Premier League champions, and while he was busy throughout, setting up Mohamed Salah's opening goal, he lacked the same penetrative threat that the former Southampton man brings to a team.
Indeed, there's been a change of role for Mane at Anfield this term, as he's been used primarily on the left flank, with Salah prowling down the right. But his searing pace, powerful running and eye for goal has ensured he's remained a crucial part of Klopp's side.
Not calling on him until the 89th minute of the match against Chelsea was peculiar as a result. The Anfield Press Twitter account was not pleased with the decision:
Mane has suffered with a few injuries this term. With that in mind, perhaps Klopp thought it best to give him a break. After all, the Reds have a packed schedule between now and the end of the year, beginning with their meeting with Stoke City on Wednesday.
After sitting out the game against Chelsea in the main, you can bet Mane will be involved from the off against Mark Hughes' side, as Liverpool seek to get back to winning ways again. For the Potters, the forward being refreshed and raring to go is likely to make what'll be a difficult evening even tougher.