A second shot at miracle working will always be worse than the first. Jesus Christ’s most recent stint, after all, was but a fraction of his premiere and, more pressingly for Liverpool fans, Mo Salah’s is proving to be similar.
Last season, Liverpool’s Egyptian talisman lit up the league. In the Premier League alone, he netted 32 times from 36 games; grabbing ten assists in the process. Feeding the 50,000 who’d come weekly to watch him and his disciples work their magic under Anfield’s star-like lights, Salah ensured that he’d enjoyed a season like no other and that it would be his name entering the annals of English footballing history as a man who’d performed a lengthy miracle.
Sadly, however, it would now appear that this miracle isn’t one likely to be repeated. But critics are still wrong to chastise the man and label his start to the 2018/19 campaign a crisis.
So far, the 26-year-old has racked up three goals from six games. It’s a solid start and will yield a 19-goal season if maintained. Now, those in Herod’s camp crying out against Liverpool’s saviour will lambaste this because it doesn’t come close to last season’s heroics.
But 19 goals in the previous campaign would have landed Salah in the league’s top five scorers above the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Alexandre Lacazette and Eden Hazard.
Besides, the fella had a goal disallowed against Southampton on Saturday and could have helped himself to a whole handful more if he’d enjoyed a better game. Yes, perhaps last season’s Salah would have returned home with a soggy matchball underarm but there’s more than one reason why this season’s didn’t.
Becoming the posterboy of a top club who play relentless, high energy football is bound to have its effects. Add a World Cup to playing almost every game for Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool and you’ve found yourself a recipe for exhausting someone.
Now, Salah probably isn’t exhausted per se but he’s certainly less fresh than when he first appeared: bright-eyed and bushy-bearded. This year, Liverpool have arguably been playing slightly wider football, too, with the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and James Milner all being relied upon to threaten with crosses and wide runs.
Salah, however, thrived as the largest third of Liverpool’s central attacking trident. He works well everywhere, but best under close-knit attacking pressure with the other Musketeers down the middle of the park.
Further, Liverpool have had seven players net their total of 14 league goals thus far and so are clearly sharing the spoils more evenly. By comparison, it took four games more to include as many players on the scoresheet last season.
Evidently, no one – even the prodigal Salah – could possibly repeat the feats achieved last time around. To start this campaign expecting to would be utterly naive from the man himself and utterly unfair from those watching him.
Jumping on the wacky-opinion bandwagon that Salah was a one-season wonder or somewhat of a fraud is sheer nonsense. He’s not having a crisis and to even hint at that being the case is beyond delusional.
Perhaps he’ll pick things up and return close to the form he once exhibited but, even if he doesn’t, the man’s a footballing miracle worker all the same. So, before writing off Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, ask yourself first: WWJD?