Jurgen Klopp laughs off Mohamed Salah talk after slow start: 'Wow that's a crisis'
LIVERPOOL -- Jurgen Klopp said he is not worried about Mohamed Salah's start to the campaign and believes the forward is being harshly compared to last season's standards.
Salah broke the Premier League record for most goals scored in a 38-game season in 2017-18 and has started the follow-up campaign with two goals in six appearances.
He began last season, his first at Liverpool following a move from Roma, with three goals in six outings and then went on to score 44 times in all competitions.
"Of course, of course everyone expects that [he matches last season's form]," Klopp said at a news conference on Friday.
"We don't expect that. We want him to score as often as possible. It is completely normal everyone expects that."
When told about Salah's start to this season compared to last, Klopp added: "Wow, that's a crisis.
"No one remembers that, it is really no problem. We constantly have to deal with new situations.
"People are very positive about this player, this player, and I have to decide do I talk to them about them or not, do I leave him alone in this situation, but everything is fine really."
Salah committed an error during Tuesday's 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain when he gave away possession in the buildup to Kylian Mbappe's equalising goal.
He was substituted two minutes after Mbappe made it 2-2 and watched Roberto Firmino's injury-time winner from the dugout.
Television cameras picked him up motioning to throw a plastic water bottle to the ground after Firmino's goal, although extended footage revealed he had raised his arms to celebrate seconds earlier.
Sources have told ESPN FC that the Liverpool manager reviewed the footage postmatch and believed there was no issue to address.
"Yes, he lost the ball before we conceded the second [PSG] goal, but it was a very intense game and things like this happen constantly," Klopp said.
"You don't always concede a goal after it, but this time we did. It was not the reason to take him off. I am fine with him, I think he is fine with me and the situation, so that's all.
"At the end of the season we will see how it was, not at the beginning. The start was good for the team and also him as well. It wasn't like he finished last season, but he needed time last year and he will take time this year. That's all."
Salah has started every game for Liverpool this so far this season, recording two assists in addition to his two goals.
"On the defensive side, the last two games he was outstanding, perfect," Klopp continued. "It is so important, in these games especially. So that says everything about him -- that he is really ready to work for the team in these moments.
"It is a completely normal situation for an offensive player that they have times when they don't score. But he is still a threat, has fantastic situations in both games and he is in a good shape.
"Finishing is something you can never take for granted. I would never do that, the players should never do that -- only the supporters are allowed to do that.
"The most important thing is physically he is in a very good shape, which helps."
Meanwhile, Firmino is fit enough to return to Liverpool's starting lineup after being forced to start as a substitute in midweek with an abrasion of the eye.
Dejan Lovren returned to full training earlier this week following his pelvis injury, but Saturday's game with his former side Southampton will come too soon for the centre-half.
"Yes, he [Firmino] is ready," Klopp said. "Did I speak a lot about lineups here in the past? I don't think so.
"Dejan is close. He looks really fit [and] did a lactate test last week so fitness-wise he is -- for his situation -- on a really OK level.
"That's good, so good work from the fitness department. We will see. He is not for the squad for the weekend, of course, but we will see how soon we can try to involve him again."
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also recently reached a milestone in his rehabilitation from serious knee ligament damage by passing a ball for the first time since surgery.
Liverpool have previously said that there is a possibility the midfielder misses the entire 2018-19 season, but the club did include him in their 25-man Premier League squad.
"Ox is a different situation but it's so nice to have Ox around," Klopp said on Friday. "I had a long injury in my career and the first month you take it somehow and then you think: 'That's really boring and it's not exactly why I wanted to play football'.
"He had, for sure, moments like this, but he's such a positive [person]. We are really waiting for him without making pressure on him and we know that it will take a long time. But he will always be a very important part of the squad because of the guy he is.
"He's a big miss for us but he is around most of the time and so is still working on the good atmosphere in and around the team."