I am always surprised what kind of things get the attention of football fans. For example, this week Mo Salah deleted all his social media accounts and it made the sports news as far away as Australia.
Conspiracy theories were rife and people literally all over the world were desperately trying to look for clues in cryptic final tweets about “time to get in touch, for real”.
Had he fell out with the Egyptian FA again? Was he starting to see social media as too much of a distraction?
Was he sick of Dejan Lovren tweeting him pictures of himself with a cup of coffee?
It turns out none of this was true and, in a very modern football way, it looks like it was actual part of the publicity stunt as part of his role as a “brand ambassador” for a logistics company.
I think they are going put us all in touch with him from around the world.
Or leave a note through our door saying we weren’t in so they left him at number 31. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m sure whatever they do will be brilliant.
But, if there is ever a week for Mo Salah to dip out of social media it is probably this one.
He only would have spent the week getting called a “diver” and a “cheat” by Dave from Milton Keynes anyway. Not that the name calling has been limited to social media.
The newspapers and TV channels are full of people who used to play football, used to referee and used to be able to enjoy themselves criticising Mo Salah.
Now I will say I am largely glad diving has a bad name in English football. Like everyone I watched what Neymar got up to in the World Cup and thought it was ridiculous.
I watch some Spanish games and think I’d struggle to watch it every week if I lived there. But, I still believe in this country we have a sanctimony towards diving that is blown out of all proportion.
Footballers start cheating as soon as the whistle blows to start the game and only stop when the whistle blows to finish it. Then they go on TV and tell lies.
It is not a sport steeped in honesty. That is why we have a referee. Sure some cheating, appealing for a throw in that isn’t yours, is milder than trying to win a penalty. But, it’s still trying to influence the game and therefore the result.
Mo Salah went down too easily against Crystal Palace and therefore didn’t get a penalty, the Palace defenders got annoyed and then everyone got one with the game. What a brilliant game it was too.
Both teams gave everything in an end to end game of football that went right to the last kick.
On Match of the Day that night Alan Shearer said “We have to mention this” and then talked about the dive. But, he didn’t. There were other dives that weekend that didn’t end up on Match of the Day, I saw them on the televised games.
Alan Shearer can talk about what he likes. But, he chose to talk about a dive in more detail than he did seven goals, a red card and a great game of footy.
I don’t believe Mo Salah, or Liverpool are getting picked on. He’s just the focus at the moment because he happens to have won a few penalties recently so all eyes are on him.
The law of averages means soon Liverpool won’t win one for a while (The Reds only got one in the first eighteen games of the season) and people will start talking about someone else.
Before him it was Raheem Sterling, then Harry Kane. Deli Ali has had it. Maybe it will be Hazard or Rashford yet. We’ll wait and see.
But, whoever it is it will get far more attention that it deserves. Especially as defenders have been kicking lumps out of attackers for years, so cry me a river if strikers are now choosing to go down a bit more easily.
Everyone is playing on the edge and sometimes a player will do something they shouldn’t, largely out of frustration, and by and large they won’t get away with it.
One thing that seems to have been missed over the last month is that referees have got every major Salah decision correct.
When it has been a penalty they have pointed to the spot. When he’s exaggerated the contact they have told him to get up and get on with it. They’re doing fine.
So maybe we should all get on with it too and enjoy the aspects of the game that are much more worthy of our attention. Mo Salah is currently the top scorer of the Premier League on 16 goals, after finishing on 32 last season in his first season for Liverpool, the most ever in a 38-game season.
The young man who failed at Chelsea and came back to England with doubts about him is breaking records all over the place and playing beautifully whilst he does it.
He’s a role model for millions an inspiration for kids all over the world, especially in North Africa and the Middle East.
It is this, not any accusations of diving, he will be remembered for when he retires. This and everything else he is yet to achieve – So, blank out the noise and enjoy the talent.
Not just of Mo, but for all of them. For the media, supporters and everyone connected with the game. What we chose to focus on is up to us, and I choose Mo Salah.