Let me surprise you: players think about personal records. A lot. When it is mentioned to you an achievement might be close, it is all you can think about.
Mohamed Salah will have gone through that recently. A little word in the ear that he was on the cusp of becoming the fastest Liverpool player to reach 100 Premier League goals. Right, well that is definitely staying lodged in the mind until the record is broken. Brentford, and that barmy 3-3 draw, was the scene on Saturday night.
He was also quicker than all-time legends Roger Hunt and Jack Parkinson to a century of top-flight goals for Liverpool.
Mo Salah became the fastest Liverpool player to reach a century of goals for the club
Salah slotted in a beautiful finish yet again at Brentford to reach his incrdible milestone
Salah is a phenomenon, with Thierry Henry and Sergio Aguero the only foreign imports to have reached the landmark in fewer games. Yet there is still that feeling of under-appreciation and I cannot put my finger on why. Maybe it is because the eye-popping numbers he produces every season have become the norm.
Compare him to Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez for a moment. They are almost held in higher esteem — and are deemed more special — by supporters. But he has a record that eclipses them easily.
We have to be honest, the Liverpool squad that Suarez was in has to go down as one of the worst in recent memory. It was not particularly vintage.
The team now is full of stars. If Salah was in a bang-average side, there would be more focus and awe on what he is churning out. Perception is a funny thing.
Salah is a Premier League champion (right) and the club’s best ever right-sided forward
It is reaching the stage where you look at what he is doing and have to come to the conclusion that he is a modern-day great. Salah walks into the right-hand side of Liverpool’s best-ever XI. He has that position sewn up.
Get him in there alongside Gerrard, Souness, Rush, Dalglish — whoever you pick, he has to be included. When you think of the players who have worn that red shirt, Salah gets in the ultimate team. Suarez and Torres do not.
The priority is making sure he agrees a new contract. He is the best signing they could make. Everybody else is done and he is the biggest hitter.
Despite this players like Luis Suarez (pictured) seem to be deemed more special than him
Fernando Torres too seems to be held in more affection despite Salah’s superiority
It might upset a few people, because he will inevitably be on more money than Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane and the rest. But he backs that up with statistics. Just look at his numbers; he’s now in the club’s top 10 scorers with 131 goals and bearing down on Harry Chambers (151) in ninth, who he could pass this season.
I am biased, of course, but strikers are worth the money. Salah wins games.
The best thing he can do is sign a five-year deal, secure himself for life and become a club legend.
Real Madrid have been sniffing but why would he go there? There isn’t a club on the planet he could join that is better than Liverpool at this stage. Hypothetically, if he goes elsewhere in the Premier League he’ll lose what he has built at Anfield. There are no European destinations that are a no-brainer. Barcelona and Real are not the same, there are other factors with Paris Saint-Germain and the merits of Ligue 1.
Liverpool’s best signing would be to tie Salah down to a new contract extension
Anybody would want Salah. His relentlessness is incredible. No matter how Liverpool are playing, Salah scores. There is no doubt that he should be more revered.
Society is always looking for the next big thing. Everybody wants the next Messi or whatever. They want exciting and new.
Salah is just like Robert Lewandowski in that sense. Why has Lewandowski never won the Ballon d’Or? How has that happened? Scoring goals is just what these guys do and it is taken for granted.
Hang on, you have titans still going here.
Players like Salah, with that mentality, come off pitches unhappy if they have not scored. He will take that disappointment home with him — however rare that might be at the moment. Jermain Defoe was always fuming when he hadn’t scored. Rio Ferdinand has told me the exact same stories about Ruud van Nistelrooy at Manchester United.
Salah continues to produce ridiculous goal numbers four years on from joining Liverpool
The cliche that it is all about the team, thinking about the next game, is a load of rubbish. I’d rather score and reach my target, thank you. And hitting your targets helps the team anyway.
That is why these ridiculous numbers are consistently posted by the elite strikers. That mentality. One-in-two was always considered world class in my day — I’m probably not old enough to use that phrase — and one-in-three was very good. I worked in the latter bracket and was happy. Now it is one a game.
The game has evolved, the standard of defending has gone up, but the records are regularly smashed.
We must cherish and applaud men like Salah.
Did you see the clip of Emi Martinez telling Cristiano Ronaldo to take Manchester United’s penalty? If you haven’t, please do. A wonderful moment of gamesmanship.
Regular listeners to my BBC podcast might be aware of a more colourful way of phrasing such antics!
Martinez basically got into the head of Bruno Fernandes. It is very clever. He is saying you are not good enough to take this responsibility.
Penalties were the elephant in the room at United when Ronaldo joined. Everybody was wondering what would happen when United were awarded one. If Ronaldo stepped up then fine — it’s Ronaldo — but Fernandes has gone: No, I’m the man here.
That obviously weighed heavily on his mind.
Martinez tapped into all of that brilliantly. He gave himself a little advantage, the kick landed halfway up the Stretford End and Aston Villa went back to Birmingham with a memorable victory.
Emiliano Martinez attempted to wind up Bruno Fernandes before he went to take his penalty
Martinez pointed at Cristiano Ronaldo suggesting that he should take the penalty instead
Fernandes skied his penalty as Manchester United fell to a surprise defeat at home
Fernandes’ miss from the penalty spot was crucial as Aston Villa went on to seal a shock win
I had a fantastic day with Prince William last week. He came to Dulwich Hamlet to discuss the Fan Led Review of Football Governance.
For him to take the time and appreciate the problem we have in grassroots football, alongside former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, showed a touch of class.
Our meeting was slightly different to last time, when I went to Kensington Palace to record my BBC podcast with him and ended up having a curry while I was there. What an amazing experience that was.
His people got in touch saying he wanted to promote his mental health charity, Heads Up, and of course you accept the invitation. That invitation is incredible by the way, on headed paper from the Palace and now sitting proudly in my office at home.
This was serious business at Dulwich and hopefully we will see change for grassroots football with the review.
Something must be done. One brief example: during Covid, when our league should have been helping, Dulwich were fined because they couldn’t complete the season without fans. The only source of revenue is the fans! It is so back to front.
Prince William, who is president of the Football Association visited Peter at Dulwich Hamlet FC in south London last week to discuss the Fan Led Review of Football Governance