Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists there is no crisis surrounding Mohamed Salah’s form and does not expect the Egypt international to repeat his record-breaking goalscoring feats from last season.
The 26-year-old enjoyed a stellar first year at Anfield, scoring 44 goals in total and setting a new Premier League record of 32 goals for a 38-game campaign.
After a shoulder injury in May’s Champions League final, Salah had a disappointing World Cup and on his return to English football does not yet look like the player who terrorised defences, scoring almost at will.
However, his tally of two goals from six matches in all competitions compares to three from half-a-dozen this time last year.
“Wow, that’s a crisis,” said Klopp sarcastically.
“No-one remembers that, it is really no problem.
“On the defensive side the last two games he was outstanding, perfect, and it is so important in these games especially, so that says everything about him: that he is really ready to work for the team in these moments.
“It is a completely normal situation for an offensive player that they have times when they don’t score. But he is still a threat, had fantastic situations in both games and he is in good shape.
“Finishing is something you can never take for granted. I would never do that, the players should never do that – only the supporters are allowed to do that.”
Klopp was asked whether the perception that Salah was not doing well was because many people expected him to repeat last season’s heroics.
“Of course. Of course everyone expects that, that is clear. It is completely normal everyone expects that,” added the Reds boss.
“We don’t expect that. We want him to score as often as possible.
“I am fine with him, I think he is fine with me and the situation. At the end of the season we will see how it was, not at the beginning.
“The start was good for the team and also him as well. It wasn’t like he finished last season but he needed time last year and we will take time this year.”
While last season all the praise was lavished on Liverpool’s front three, so far it has been the midfield which has been winning all the plaudits.
Georginio Wijnaldum has been a revelation interchanging between a holding midfielder role and a more attacking one, while the 32-year-old James Milner’s fan club grows on a daily basis.
Milner was man of the match in Tuesday’s 3-2 Champions League win over Paris St Germain, matching his performance in the victory at Tottenham three days earlier.
“What was it last year? Most assists in the Champions League? How can you be surprised when he’s doing similar things?” said Klopp ahead of the visit of Southampton.
“In football it can sound like a massive age, 32, but he’s still young. He’s a proper professional, so his body gives him the opportunity.
“He is now in a position which he loves. He’s very energetic and lively and likes to cover big distances, that helps in midfield, but it helped us also at left-back.
“He can play football, which makes him a pretty valuable player to be honest!”