This isn’t just a good start to the season anymore, nor is it a purple patch for the 25-year-old Egyptian. What Liverpool supporters are witnessing is something remarkable, a debut season that the Kop has never seen the likes of before.
I write this an hour after Liverpool have drawn with Tottenham Hotspur. A game that summed up what football, the Premier League and Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp is all about. The biggest shame about the game from a Liverpool supporter’s perspective is not just the 2 points dropped, but also that Mohamed Salah’s second goal now becomes confined to the “Brilliant goals deemed inconsequential by the result” dustbin.
It joins what is now a fabled list for Liverpool supporters. Christian Benteke’s bicycle kick against United in 2015, Sebastian Coates’ similar strike at Loftus Road in 2012, and who could forget Daniel Sturridge’s outside of the boot effort in the Europa League Final 2016.
Salah’s second encapsulates everything he is about, and everything he has shown to Liverpool fans this season. Just when you think he’s going to lose it, he holds on. Just when you think he’s running down a blind alley crowded by opposition shirts, he finds space where there is none. Just when you think he’s had one touch too many, he jolts inside and finds the net for the 28th time this season.
If an American “soccer” fan ever asks you what the term “He had no right to score that” means, then show them that goal. What’s more is that Salah doesn’t try that move ten times in the knowledge it might come off once, or even twice. The African Player of the Year for 2017 knows it’ll work eight, nine, or even ten times out of ten.
The ball is glued to his feet like nobody I’ve ever seen play for The Reds before, and his ball retention for an attacking player could well be the best in the league. Any shaky finishing from the opening games of the season are now distant memories as the Egyptian is already evens with some bookmakers as an anytime goal-scorer against Southampton next weekend. So what am I getting at here?
More than anything, it’s the appreciation of the moment. Nostalgia reigns supreme, when people talk about Torres’ first season in 07/08 or Luis Suarez in 13/14. But for all the love and adoration from Liverpool supporters towards the former Roma and Basel winger, there doesn’t seem to be an appreciation of just how special these last few months have been, and just how memorable it will be in years to come.
If you had asked Liverpool supporters at the beginning of the season what they would’ve been happy with from Mohamed Salah, 13 league goals and 18 in all comps probably would’ve been the general consensus. Salah has 21 league goals and 28 in all comps. It is February.
Goals against Manchester City, Everton, Sevilla, Chelsea, two against Arsenal, three against Tottenham, a winner against Leicester and a penalty which sent Egypt to their first World Cup in 28 years. It’s world class, and as good as there is in Europe at this moment in time. People will laugh that off and shout “deluded”, and Mohamed Salah obviously isn’t as good as Messi or Ronaldo. But take a moment to remember what Gary Neville said about Messi himself in 2011.
“I think we’re always nervous about calling people who we are currently watching, who are young at 23, the best player ever, but we shouldn’t be, we should admit what we’re seeing in front of our eyes”.
Mohamed Salah is by no means the greatest player ever, maybe not even the best player in the league. But we have to admit and cherish what we’re watching.
What we are witnessing is genuinely incredible, and something that even Mohamed Salah clearly didn’t expect. His celebrations at the start of the season were restrained with a hint of a “this is too easy” arrogance about him. However, in recent weeks his post-goal expressions have changed. Look at him screaming to the Gods against Manchester City after lobbing Ederson from 40 yards, or the knee slide after his supposed winner against Spurs. This lad is clearly surprising himself by his numbers, while at the same time also aware of just how good he is.
It’s not just the goals. It’s the strength, the tenacity, the passing, the vision and the speed. A winger who can still track back for his team and win the ball back, a skill that Mahrez and Hazard have missed throughout their careers.
Every week since he scored Liverpool’s only goal at Wembley on the 22nd of October I, along with so many others, have been convinced he was going to slow down. “Surely it’ll end now, surely he’ll pick up an injury”.
No, this lad is next level. And Liverpool fans need to see that. In the words of Martin Tyler; “So watch it, drink it, seep it in, I swear you’ll never see anything like this again”. Someday when you’re old and grey you’ll think back to the 2017/18 season, and remember the Egyptian King, running down the wing.
28 goals lad. 28 goals by February the 5th, Oh, and did I mention he’s not even a striker.