(Reuters) – Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was never worried about Mohamed Salah being able to follow up his stellar first season at Anfield but conceded both the player and club must learn to cope with a raised level of expectations.
The Egyptian forward, who scored 44 goals for the Merseyside club in all competitions during his debut campaign, fired a brilliant hat-trick in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Bournemouth to send unbeaten Liverpool top of the Premier League.
A dislocated shoulder during the Champions League final in May and a disappointing World Cup seemed to hang over Salah at the start to the season, but Klopp believes the 26-year-old had never lost his scoring touch.
“I’m interested in the moment but I never judge it because the moment is just a little part of all what we do,” the German manager told reporters.
“So I was not for one second worried.
“If you score 10 goals in the first five games everyone would say: ‘It will happen again.’ But if you score 39 (in a season), it would be: ‘Yeah, but it’s not 41’.
“So we all have to learn to deal with it and of course he (Salah) has to as well. He has never had a season like that. And he wants to have the season again.”
The three goals against Bournemouth took Salah’s tally to 10 Premier League goals this season as he also became the fastest Liverpool player to reach 40 goals in the competition after he reached the milestone in his 52nd match.
Liverpool return to action on Tuesday when they host Napoli in a must-win Champions League group stage encounter.
The Merseyside club, who were beaten by Real Madrid in the final last season, need to win either 1-0 or by two clear goals to progress to the last 16.
“We have the chance with a specific result still to go through when this Champions League campaign so far was not really ours,” Klopp added.
“We have to be on our toes on Tuesday night. It’s a big one, our people know that and I know they are already warming up.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)