Salah Dummy Spit Exposes Training Routine

I guess this is more of an “observation” than an actual “article” in light of what has been percolating here at the LFC Podcasting Couch.

For those who don’t know, Peter (The Coach) and I (The George) recently put out our first “Training Ground” segment over Periscope, analysing and explaining how certain in-game phenomena eventuates as a result of tactical decision-making.

On this weeks Training Ground, The Coach and I highlighted ways in which a team can break down these “low block” defences that have often exposed Liverpool Football Club many times both past and present.

One of such phenomena we analysed was the tactic of hitting a HIGH cross over the defence to be CUT BACK into the box via a low cross, designed to disrupt and dissect a packed-in defence. This was executed twice in the game; Mo Salah first looped it high from the right wing to Milner who (eventually) cut the ball back low and hard for Sadio Mane, and then Alex Ox-Chambo (as his twitter handle prefers to call him) looped one high, from the right wing, for Robbo to cut back first-time into Salah, who is making finishing look like FIFA 18 at times. 

HIGH switch to the back designed to disrupt, then a LOW cut-back to set up the chance to score.

HIGH switch to the back designed to disrupt, then a LOW cut-back to set up the chance to score.

Now, I was watching lfc.tv’s free YouTube highlights package and for some reason I was just keeping my eyes on Mo Salah. Only Mo. Don’t know why, maybe it’s because he’s a friggen GOD – but stare at him constantly, I most certainly did. 

Anyway, as the highlights progressed to the 49th minute, it came time to watch our first goal.

Here comes Mo Salah with the ball and, as I’ve already explained, he promptly lobs the ball over the box and to our left most player, which in this case is James Milner.

THIS IS WHERE THINGS GET INTERESTING.

As Salah plays the lobbed pass, he DARTS into the box immediately. The ball lands behind Milner a bit, but Milner takes a touch and FEINTS to drive it back in straight away, takes an extra touch and instead plays the one-two with Bobby Firmino.

This is where we pause play. Watch the video below at around the 24 second mark and notice Salah’s reaction when Milner takes a touch.

He is LIVID. It’s a full-blown dummy spit. He smacks both hands against his hips and shakes his head in disappointment. He’s seemingly ANNOYED that the ball has not come STRAIGHT BACK into the box first-time.

Given how our second goal is scored, it’s interesting to see Salah react this way. Our second goal is, again, teed up deep, Robbo delivers it back FIRST TIME. As the Coach says in our Training Ground feature (watch it below!), a lobbed pass with an immediate cut-back destabilises the defence because they’re still focusing on the high trajectory.

Salah’s momentary instance of anger could be proof that the squad has indeed worked extensively on this as a tactic to break down a heavily packed defence, due to the fact that he was expecting an immediate ball BACK into the box. He could be annoyed with the fact that Milner isn’t following through with the “training ground routine” that they have practised for hours and hours at Melwood.

Yeah, I know what y’all are thinking, it’s a long shot. Sure, another reason could be that he was simply frustrated that his own pass forces both Milner and Firmino to reposition themselves.

But I prefer my original theory.

We scored anyway Mo, so there’s no need to get upset – but the possible training ground routine afoot remains interesting, nonetheless…