Sanjay Nair discusses Mohamed Salah’s form and what needs to happen for the Egyptian to hit the dizzying heights he did last season.
Seven games into the season and all the talk is once again about last year’s Golden Boot winner, the irrepressible, ever-smiling fan favourite at Liverpool Football Club, Mohamed Salah.
Only this time, not all has gone well so far for our Egyptian King and at least on a couple of occasions, after being substituted, we have seen an absolutely frustrated figure on the bench.
So what has gone wrong with Mo Salah’s start to the season? Is it the opinion that he is a uni-dimensional player and defenders in England and Europe have figured out his game to a large extent?
Or is he carrying the injury from last year’s Champions League final and was prematurely rushed back into playing by his National team? Or this a player simply struggling to rediscover the scintillating form of last season and it is just a matter of time?
The numbers game
Perhaps it is a little bit of everything in small parts. There is no doubt everyone knows how Mo Salah loves to get on that devastating left foot and curl in beauties to the corners of the goal.
But no matter how much they try and deny him space and time, Salah has had enough opportunities in all the games to replicate his feats of last season. But half the number of goals and less than 50% of the conversion rate from the same point last season have not served his case well.
To put the end result in simple terms, it is more a case of a misfiring winger than anything else and the more he misses, the more that confidence takes a beating.
Lingering injury issues
Images of a heavily strapped shoulder have also led to doubts about his fitness and how it might be affecting his abilities. Sufficient time has passed since that infamous fall in Kiev and his movements around the park belie any such negative impacts.
Hardcore critics and nay-sayers aside, it has been pretty evident that Mo Salah still does a fair bit of running, harassing defenders in the same way. Chances have been created, albeit spurned, by the dozen and this is definitely is a sign that he is not completely bereft of confidence leading the Reds’ frontline as part of the Fab-3.
And then there are even bigger accusations from certain quarters of jealousy between Salah and his fellow-African Sadio Mané. Visuals of a bottle-throwing Mo Salah on the bench whilst the rest of Liverpool celebrated Firmino’s late, late winner against PSG and instances of the two players in question failing to find each other in better goal-scoring situations have only added fuel to the fire.
It is hard to fathom that these sort of issues can crop up amongst such a close-knit group, especially with a manager like Jürgen Klopp at the helm. Klopp, more than anyone will have realized the role he has to play to get Mo Salah back on track and his recent interviews were proof of this view.
Whatever is happening right now with Mo Salah is surely just another phase which every top player goes through and with the right kind of input from the coaching staff and senior players within the squad, it is only a matter of time before we see him coaxed back into form.
There is no doubt it will be difficult for him to come up with another 30 goal season in the League, but we can still expect to see him close to that 20-goal mark to shoot down the critics.
Until then, it is important everyone around shows patience and confidence in Mo Salah before we can see him ‘running down the wing’ in that indefatigable style of his and wowing everyone again.