Mohamed Salah was thrown on at half-time yesterday as Chelsea laboured to a 2-0 defeat away at Manchester City in the FA Cup.
The £11 million signing looked off the pace but it’s still far too early in his Chelsea career to draw concrete judgements on the Egyptian because he’s not had much of a chance to adapt to his new club and English football.
He looked visibly smaller compared to some of the Manchester City midfielders he was going up against.
Work in the gym and extra strength and conditioning training will improve the physical aspect of his game, making him a stronger player in terms of physical challenges and making him less likely to get brushed off the ball easily.
He also had to deal with resisting the natural urge of how he likes to play football.
When Mourinho threw him on, he was the striker and Chelsea needed him to play on the shoulder of the Manchester City back four which he struggled with because his natural urge is to drop off and go looking for the ball in midfield areas.
That natural urge allowed City to adopt a very high defensive line, squeezing Chelsea and making it very difficult for them to get out of their own half.
It was only when Fernando Torres came on and played up front that Salah looked more comfortable, drifting to a wider position and getting more involved in the game.
The scenario surrounding how Salah first joined Chelsea created a lot of hostility and friction between Blues fans and Liverpool fans, who saw the winger seemingly swiped from within their grasp as they looked to close out a deal for him.
It’s that hostility which led to several Liverpool fans reacting with apparent glee on Twitter yesterday as they watched Salah struggle to make an impact against a stronger Manchester City midfield and attack.
Who Think That Salah made a bad decision by Joining Chelsea and Rejecting Liverpool's offer?— World Transfer News (@W_transfer_N) February 15, 2014
Salah looks so average, think Liverpool did alright missing out on him— Adam Meagher (@AdamMeagher) February 15, 2014
Liverpool fans will be happy Salah didn't sign for them now cause he is dung— James McSharry (@JAMES98MCSHARRY) February 15, 2014
I'm so happy Liverpool didn't buy Salah. #overrated— Zanin Suljic (@Zanin_Suljic) February 15, 2014
This is what Liverpool could have had..... see what he can do #Salah— ... (@_YTFC_LFC_) February 15, 2014
image: © ekilby