Jordan Henderson has leapt to Mohamed Salah‘s defence and warned that a campaign to brand him as a diver will prove to be counterproductive.
Liverpool’s leading scorer has been in the spotlight since Christmas, winning three penalties including the one that settled Saturday’s tense clash with Brighton; Salah ended up being heckled by home supporters following his collision with Pascal Gross.
Chris Hughton, Brighton’s manager, had ‘no complaints’ about the decision but there are critics who feel Salah goes down to easily in the area. Henderson, Liverpool’s captain, believes such judgements are unfair and insists it is disrespectful to tag the Egyptian in such a way.
Mohamed Salah won and scored the penalty at Brighton which gave Liverpool a crucial 1-0 win
Salah stepped up to score his third penalty in the last four Premier League games
Henderson, though, believes opposition fans who attempt to wind Salah up could actually do Liverpool a favour. He feels the 26-year-old has the same mind-set as Luis Suarez and, similarly to the Uruguayan, will want silence his critics with goals.
‘Well, for a start, it was a 100 per cent penalty,’ said Henderson. ‘There’s nothing to discuss about that. In terms of Mo, I would think away grounds would be appreciative of what they see. The things he does, I’m sure he is a joy to watch.
‘If they do that, they will make him better. It won’t bother him. That’s the mentality he’s got. He’s so strong, I know he is. The more people are against him, the more he will want to prove them wrong. I’m not worried about that. When he goes to away grounds, people should appreciate him.
‘He will do things that people want to see. He’s got this very strong mentality and I thought he was brilliant at Brighton. He will do things that some fans might not see that often but they should enjoy him because he is world class. It was a clear penalty. There’s nothing to talk about in that respect.’
Jordan Henderson insists attempts to label Salah a diver will only spur on in the striker
Liverpool responded in the perfect way at Brighton, having lost their first Premier League game of the campaign to Manchester City, and the win showed they have the mentality to cope with the pressure that will be applied as they attempt to win the title.
But if there are nerves amongst supporters, the mood within the squad is completely different. Henderson made it clear that the reverse at the Etihad had no impact and nobody within the squad is paying attention to the noise that surrounds their challenge.
‘There are no doubts amongst ourselves – none,’ said Henderson. ‘We have no need to lose confidence. Look at the start of the season up until this point. We’re full of confidence and we are together, with a strong mentality. It was just a great opportunity for us to get three points.
Henderson insists there are no nerves inside the Liverpool camp, despite their defeat at City
‘It’s that simple. We don’t have to go out and prove anything to anyone. All we have to keep doing is having the belief in ourselves to go and win games. We have done that all season, so why change? We will keep working in training and focus on what we need to do to keep winning games.
That’s all it should be. Everyone else can talk about us losing games, we’ll just keep concentrating on ourselves. We know every game now is going to become the biggest of the season. Next week against Crystal Palace will be the biggest game of the season. That’s how we will look at it.
‘We are prepared for it and that’s how we will go all the way until the end.’
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