The grin and relief on Salah’s face was plain for all to see after netting against Southampton.
That tap-in signaled the end of his personal mini-drought, who was on a 3 game goalless streak prior to Southampton’s visit. Still it’s hard to ignore his poor form in the previous games, with his sloppy pass allowing Mbappe to equalise for PSG on still fresh on everyone’s mind. With Salah failing to get into his groove so far, the former Roma man has come under fire from fans and rivals alike.
However, is the criticism against Salah warranted?
Before fingers are being pointed, let us examine the stats to Salah’s season so far. 3 goals and 2 assists is not too shabby a tally for a player classed as a winger. That’s in fact just 1 goal short of his previous league tally at this point of the season. So in terms of his final output, there is no reason to be slagging our Egyptian King.
Fans though aren’t happy with his current performances, claiming he’s too selfish, or being sloppy one too many times. Though I agree there are instances that he should have played in a team mate, I find the exaggerated claim to be bewildering. Do the true fans really watch him play? He created 7 big chances for his team mates as of this point, more than anyone in the league. Just cause he refused to pass to Mane in the Tottenham game and he ends up being deemed selfish by knee-jerk ‘fans’.
As for being sloppy? Maybe, but Salah is still a big, big threat in opposition halves. His attacking stats thus far certainly back that up. 16 shots (3rd in the league), 52 touches in the opposition box (1st), and 14 dribbles completed (3rd) help us paint a more complete picture. And that’s not accounting for his defensive contributions, where he isn’t shy to trigger the press, track back, or make a tackle. To get an attacker willing to do the dirty work is rare in today’s game, which irks me even more when certain individuals gloss over Salah’s contributions to the team.
Before yesterday’s game against Southampton, Klopp made it clear that he’s happy with Salah’s performance thus far. Commending Salah, the boss said: “On the defensive side the last two games were outstanding, perfect from him. It’s so important in these games especially, so that says everything about him, that he is really ready to work for the team in these moments and it’s a completely normal situation for an offensive player that you have times when you don’t score. But he is still a threat.”
With the manager himself acknowledging Salah’s efforts, it’s time for fans to follow his example. Heaping pressure on the man would likely do more harm than good, which is why supporters need to lay off Salah.
For a player that people saying is having a bad start, @MoSalah is freaking brilliant ⚽️⚽️🔝
— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) September 22, 2018
Look, to score another 44 goals in a season is gonna be quite ridiculous unless your name is Messi or Ronaldo. Such mind-blowing campaigns are usually a one-off, which is why only Ian Rush is ahead of Salah in terms of goals scored in a single season despite the club’s long list of greats. Klopp himself doesn’t expect Salah to hit last season’s crazy heights, even if he admits that “everybody expects that” to happen.
So why can’t fans be a little more realistic? If Salah were to score 25 goals come the end of the season, that’ll be a perfectly respectably tally for any forward. Salah is no doubt a victim of his past successes, and it’s our responsibility to diffuse any pressure he may be feeling in trying to replicate last season’s heights. And that responsibility starts now.