Clubs, English Premier League, Liverpool, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Story

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen explains why Liverpool’s front three are the perfect combination of selfish and selfless.
Michael Owen opens up on his Twitter spat with Alan Shearer, saying that the Newcastle legend uses him as a scapegoat for Newcastle’s relegation in 2009.
ESPN FC’s Steve Nicol thinks Sadio Mane’s temper tantrum is “the reason Liverpool are so good.”

Michael Owen has told ESPN FC that Mohamed Salah is a “selfish” striker, but the former Liverpool forward said the Egypt international’s recent spat with teammate Sadio Mane will not disrupt the pair’s prolific partnership.

Mane reacted angrily after being substituted during Liverpool’s 3-0 Premier League victory at Burnley last Saturday, with the Senegal forward unhappy at Salah’s failure to pass to him on at least one occasion when in a goalscoring position at Turf Moor.

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– Owen: I put my body on the line to save Shearer

Manager Jurgen Klopp played down the incident after the game and Owen, who scored 158 goals in 297 appearances for the club during a seven-year spell at Anfield, said the Liverpool boss must ensure Salah and Mane find a way to set aside any differences.

“When you look at Liverpool’s front three, you have Roberto Firmino, who is probably the most unselfish player in the world — he would lay on anything — so would be a dream to play with,” Owen told ESPN FC.

“At the other end of the spectrum, you have Mo Salah, who is just focused on scoring and wanting to be the goalscorer. Then you have Sadio Mane, who sits in between — he likes scoring and is selfish when he needs to be — but he’s also quite generous in his passing.

“I think you have a great balance there, but it just boiled over the other day. I was doing the [Burnley-Liverpool] game for television and I said at the time, ‘Have you seen that? There are a couple of times he [Salah] should have been passing.’

“Of course, it all blew up and I saw it coming in many ways. These problems happen all the time and it’s Jurgen Klopp’s job to smooth them over. But I do think that, as a striker, there is a balance in everything.

“There has to be one that’s unselfish and one who is selfish, otherwise you are never going to get any goals. I was always at my best with Emile Heskey — he was really unselfish and I was a really selfish so-and-so.

“But put me with another selfish player — another striker who was hungry for goals — and you wouldn’t necessarily hit it off the same.”

Salah and Mane both won the Premier League Golden Boot last season, with the two forwards netting 22 goals to share top spot alongside Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Salah is one ahead of Mane so far this season, with the former Roma man scoring three league goals, while his teammate has two. Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero tops the charts with six goals.

And although the Liverpool pair are likely to battle it out for the Golden Boot once again, Owen said he believes that Salah will be more aware of Mane next time the chance arises to tee up his strike partner.

“I don’t think it will be a problem that will last,” Owen said. “Next time Salah gets the ball, he will probably be more conscious that he has to pass sometimes, if there is a better opportunity.

“If he does, I guess it will be forgotten about, but these players are playing right on the edge at the very highest level and little things can just happen like that. It’s fine. These things happen all the time in every dressing-room — you get arguing all the time.

“Unfortunately for Jurgen Klopp, it happened in front of the cameras and he had to dampen it down, but things like that happen all the time at every club. Sometimes having an argument is quite a good thing because it keeps everyone on their toes.

“You are talking about 25 men in a squad who live in each others pockets for nine-10 months a year, so you are always going to have arguments, scuffles. Not everyone will get on, but it’s the manager’s job to piece it all together.”

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