• David Tyrer

LFC legend defends Mo Salah against diving furore

You'd definitely have to be the most closeted football fan to have not heard, read or seen the latest witch-hunt by the British press against Liverpool's Mo Salah.

The Egyptian forward has been absolutely hammered by the press, much like Suarez was during his time in the country, with the difference being that for Salah it has been mostly undeserved.

Has he taken a tumble or two, and exaggerated contact on a handful of occasions? Of course he has, but then the Premier League is full of players like this - Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jamies Vardy and Wilfried Zaha, to name but a few. The list goes on.

But Salah, playing for a hugely supported, high-profile Northern team comes under much more scrutiny. Particularly with LFC sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League and Reds' legend Robbie Fowler has come out in defence of the forward.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Fowler said: "I was never one for diving — if I had a chance to get a shot off, I’d always take it.

"Yet, I’ve been shaking my head in disbelief at the criticism aimed at Mohamed Salah in recent weeks for what people have been particularly eager to call cheating.

"It’s been sustained and hostile, and I’m wondering why.

"Why it’s been much worse than that aimed at Harry Kane this season, for instance, or in the past say Michael Owen or David ­Beckham (and I’m not singling them out!).

"We have to be very careful as football fans. We need to stop and think about whether Salah is being targeted for where he comes from and who he is.

"It seems like stereotyping, and­ possibly because he’s an overseas player."

Since his arrival back in the Premier League from Roma at the start of last season Salah, predominantly seen as a wide player, took the EPL by storm and topped the scoring charts. After a slow start to the current season, he was already being written off.

So for Fowler to suggest that there is a slightly 'sinister' tone to the criticism makes sense, particularly as Salah is often compared to England poster-boy Harry Kane (himself often booked for diving, which barely gets a second look).

Fowler continued: "Watching the Arsenal-Manchester United game on Friday, Paul Pogba went through early, got hacked from behind, but didn’t go down and then lost the ball. No free-kick.

"Soon after, goes through again, gets pulled back slightly. What does he do? Of course, he goes down, because otherwise he knows if he tries to get a shot off and fails, he gets nothing again. It is not as simple as people are making out.

"If Salah were this massive cheat people seem to be trying to portray him as, why was the penalty he ­converted against Newcastle at the end of December the first awarded for Liverpool at Anfield in 18 months?

"Think about that."

Fowler believes a lot of the criticism this season has been unwarranted


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