Why Mohammed Salah will not be a one season wonder
Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez. They all have one thing in common. They were former custodians of the Golden Boot and record holders for the most goals scored in a single premier league season until Mo Salah decided to light up the premier league last season.
Salah scored 44 goals in all competitions in a record-breaking debut campaign. Only Ian Rush has bettered that output in a Liverpool shirt with his tally of 47 goals. Yet there is a prevailing notion that the herculean feats he achieved last season, would be difficult to replicate.
Stats do tend to back up these allegations. Throughout his career, Salah has been able to maintain a respectable, if not spectacular goal return. His most prolific season before his Liverpool goal fest was achieved in his final season at Roma, where he had managed 19 goals in all competitions.
The season before he had scored 14. So there really isn't any reason for this abrupt increase in goals from a statistical point of view. Hence, most people are quick to conclude that his premier league campaign was an anomaly.
But this is where it gets interesting. Roma and Liverpool do not play the similar way. Roma set up in a more traditional sense, with Dzeko as the target man striker who shouldered the goal-scoring responsibilities.
Salah was often deployed as an orthodox winger and in certain rare occasions as a creative fodder for Dzeko in a two-man strike partnership similar to Chelsea's use of Eden Hazard this season.
But at Liverpool, the Egyptian is supported by Brazilian Forward, Roberto Firmino, a very unique, rare center-forward. He was a center attacking midfielder, before his renaissance into a lethal all-around center-forward at Liverpool.
Firmino's role often involves dropping deep, vacating the space, where the traditional striker often occupies. So as opposed to Roma's traditional use of wingers and strikers, Liverpool often invites the wide attacking players, in Mane and Salah, to drift into the space vacated by Firmino. Hence, Salah tends to be the player farthest up the pitch for Liverpool.
Salah last season understandably averaged more shots from inside the box per 90 minutes when compared to his previous seasons at Roma. Clearly evident as well, is the number of chances created at the same time. He created more chances at Roma than at Liverpool.
This exemplifies his change in role from that of a creator to that of a finisher. Salah isn't expected to be the man, burdened with creating chances at Liverpool, he is the one who is tasked with finding the back of the net.
Klopp from the onset had set about building a team that could be unpredictable, dynamic and has goal threats from throughout the team. Philippe Coutinho departing midway through last season was seen as the catalyst for change.
With Klopp having not enough options, he stuck to starting his front three consistently for the majority of the season. This worked wonders, especially with Salah shining, taking over the mantle as the club's best player. Salah began to enjoy more freedom, and the goals never stopped.
Salah will be marked next season. He is heavily left-footed and defenders will be made very aware of this very fact. Opposition team meetings will involve a heavy focus on how to stop the Egyptian Forward.
Klopp has imprinted his heavy metal philosophy in Liverpool. Ever since his arrival, they have scored plenty and more pertinently created loads of chances. Salah has been the perfect addition to Klopp's footballing vision, as he is capable of implementing his full-throttle style perfectly. Add creative midfielder Naby Keita to the mix, and it would take a bold man to say that Liverpool's Egyptian King won't hit the same heights as last season.