Mohamed Salah promises Liverpool fans: This is ‘just the start’

Mohamed Salah feels his 43 goals for Liverpool this season is just the start. (AFP)
Updated 11 May 2018
0

Mohamed Salah promises Liverpool fans: This is ‘just the start’

  • Salah named Football Writers' Player of the Year
  • 'It is just the start ... it's just the beginning'

LONDON Mohamed Salah has reassured Liverpool fans his stunning first season is “just the beginning” of his time at the club despite speculation over interest from Real Madrid.
The Egyptian collected awards in Liverpool on Thursday after being voted player of the season by both the club’s fans and his teammates before boarding a flight to collect the Football Writers’ Association’s award in London.
The 25-year-old has scored 43 goals in all competitions since arriving from Roma last summer, a return that has seen him heavily linked with Spanish giants Real Madrid, who face Liverpool in the Champions League later this month.
But Salah, who needs just one more goal to become the outright record-holder for the most strikes in a 38-match season in the Premier League, appears content with life at the club.
“I’m very happy here, everything is fine,” he said. “Of course I have got ambitions for the future with Liverpool. As you can see we had a great season, now we are in the Champions League final and everyone is excited.
“It is just the start. This is my first year here and it is the same for some other players. It is just the beginning.”
Liverpool cannot focus all of their energies on Real just yet, with the battle for a place in next season’s Champions League still not settled.
A point in their final match, at home to Brighton on Sunday, will be enough to secure a top-four finish, after which all eyes turn to Kiev.
Salah, who was last month crowned Professional Footballers’ Association players’ player of the year, won the writers’ award ahead of Kevin De Bruyne and Harry Kane.
Speaking in London, he said: “I was here four years ago (with Chelsea) and a lot of people were saying he couldn’t play in the Premier League. I left Chelsea but it was always in my mind to come back to make them wrong. So I make them wrong.
“I’m not the same player. I improved a lot in Rome but I can’t say everything is me. The team-mates are maybe different. The coach is tough and they always help me inside and outside the pitch.”


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
0

Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”