In my lifetime, I have never seen a debut season like Mohamed Salah’s at Anfield.

The Anfield faithful knew they were getting a good player in Salah from AS Roma before the beginning of the 2017-18 season, but majority felt he was a good player and nothing more. Early signs suggested he was what we thought he was.

A player who was rapid with the ball at his feet, but perhaps a little bit wayward in front of goal. As last season progressed and came to an end, he was worthy of being mentioned in the same bracket as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The wayward forward we thought he was at the beginning of the season turned into a 44-goal forward for the Reds in all competitions.

It is something we certainly did not see coming, and it probably is something we will not see for a while, or perhaps ever again from a debutant.

With the season Salah had last, expectations have no surprise gone up. He is the main man now at Anfield.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JULY 25: Mohammed Salah #11 of Liverpool takes the field against Manchester City during their match at MetLife Stadium on July 25, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

He is the one the supporters, staff and players all look at for a bit of inspiration, but I personally believe expectations need to be managed when it comes to the Egyptian for the 2018-19 campaign, regardless of how well he went last season.

He certainly has not started the season poorly, having two goals next to his name after four appearances in the Premier League.

For someone who is known as a winger, that is absolutely fine. Unfortunately for him though, everyone just expects him to reach the levels of last season again.

Despite having a decent start when it comes goals, he hasn’t quite looked the same as he did last season.

It is difficult to work out exactly why he has looked a little bit off the pace, but it isn’t anything to worry about.

I think what we saw last campaign was quite a unique season, and to expect that again from him would just be unfair.

This season, he will gain a lot more attention from all opposition defences. They will know the threat he possesses, but with Salah gaining more attention, it will free up a certain Sadio Mane.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 20: Sadio Mane scores for Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, London. (Photo by AFP)

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I think we are seeing a reverse in situations this season thus far compared to last. It may only be early, but Mane has looked unbelievably good with four goals in four appearances in the Premier League this campaign.

Heading into last season, Mane was coming off a successful 2016-17 campaign. I certainly did not think he had a poor 2017-18 season, Salah just simply put everything out of perspective, but there were times where one did feel Mane was less influential than the previous season.

Perhaps he did gain more attention from defenders in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17, and that simply being because they had a better understanding of the threat he brought to a game.

That no doubt helped Salah as he had more space to showcase his talent. Maybe this season defenders will pay more attention to the Egyptian and less on the Senegalese, which has arguably contributed to one starting the season slightly better than the other.

That could be one reason why the expectation on Salah needs to be managed, but I just feel overall it will be very difficult for him to get 44 goals again this season.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – Sunday, February 11, 2018: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah scores the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary’s Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If he can get around 20 or more goals, then that is a solid season and will do more than enough for me to be satisfied with the Egyptian.

With the Liverpool front three of Roberto Firmino, Mane and Salah being so talented, there is no need for someone to be getting 44 goals.

Liverpool have already shown this season they have improved defensively having conceded only one goal from the opening four games. If they can maintain that, the need to score excessive amounts of goals will not be as necessary.

The Liverpool of the past have needed to score a couple or more to win a game, and that was simply down to having a defence that undid a lot of the good work the forwards were doing.

So, rest easy everyone when it comes to Salah’s season. I hope he scores 44 goals again, but we should not be surprised if he does not. Expectations need to be managed.

About The Author

Freelance sports journalist and Red from Melbourne.

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