The national and even international hilarity over Harry Kane’s request to have another player’s goal given to him by a review board is beginning to subside.
It seemed like Liverpool supporters and players were most indulgent, since Mohamed Salah leads the race for the Golden Boot at present.
It was fun at first, Tottenham’s striker being photo-shopped to look like the first man to run a four-minute mile or even winning Saturday’s Grand National but like all jokes it wore thin through repetition.
On Saturday the Egyptian scored a stunner against Bournemouth while his rival was shut out by Manchester City, thus giving Salah his five-goal lead back despite the helping hand given to Kane.
Having contributed to the debate by Tweeting “wow really?” on hearing the news, Salah was reluctant to prolong the discussion. He perhaps accepts now it’s in a striker’s nature to want every possible goal credited to himself.
Fans may recall him taking a penalty at Huddersfield, when James Milner was on the pitch and would normally be expected to step up to the spot.
It’s not like Kane hasn’t scored plenty of goals in recent years but barring a miraculous finish he may have to concede this particular contest to Salah eventually.
Both players are similar in that they usually shoot on sight anyway. Salah does also have nine assists to his credit, though there were times on Saturday when the race to be top scorer in England seemed uppermost in his mind.
The worry for his manager Jurgen Klopp is that any distraction from the important matter of winning matches could be harmful.
He’s created a stunning forward line that also includes Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The combined efforts of all three, with regards to league goals and assists (78 and counting in the Premier League between them), are impressive and they each scored against Bournemouth to emphasise that fact.
The fluidity and creativity Liverpool have up front is something unique and does most of Klopp’s talking for him. The parts are all special but the sum is even greater when it all fuses together unselfishly.
Individual accolades obviously come second to team achievements. Salah would hand back any number of goals just to be able to lift the Champions League, while Kane would do likewise if Tottenham could land the FA Cup.
All managers want that competitive edge from their best players. There isn’t a club in the world that wouldn’t employ Cristiano Ronaldo for example, despite his blatant self-absorption bordering on narcissism.
Salah has taken everyone by surprise with his goal record this season. That he is even being spoken of in the same breath as Kane couldn’t have been predicted nine months ago when the season began.
Managers need to find that balance between players wanting to be the best and marshalling it for the common good. Salah knows he’s been ably assisted by the players around him but if just one were to drop out the same magic wouldn’t be there.
That will be one of Klopp’s major problems moving forward, to augment his so-called Fab Three. The season began well enough but when Mane missed games through suspension and injury it was obvious Liverpool suffered and dropped points frequently.
In previous eras a selfish goal poacher would often be coupled with a less selfish, more creative partner. Liverpool’s best example was Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish, now Salah is close to Rush’s all-time Reds record of 47 goals which has stood for 34 years.
Formations and terminology change, although few refer to Firmino as a False No.9 given the huge hike in his own goal-scoring prowess.
Klopp’s solution to one of his stars going missing may be to create more scoring opportunities for the rest of the side.
Work could certainly be done on set pieces for example, especially after the loss of Philippe Coutinho who was almost entirely responsible for Liverpool’s free kick goals before he was sold.
As for corners, some people are cynical enough to suggest giving the opposition a goal kick instead in order to stop wasting everyone’s time.
In the Houllier treble season, half of Liverpool’s goals came from set-pieces, long range shots and the long ball to Michael Owen or Emile Heskey — so-called cheap goals. Not exactly the beautiful game as Klopp sees it, but clearly effective and a useful alternative.
There was a moment on Saturday when Firmino tried to do too much rather than clinically finish, something he might learn more about by watching the likes of Kane at his best.
For the moment things couldn’t be going any better. Worries about what will happen if a certain player is injured or loses form can be put on hold until the summer.
Right now Liverpool have the best goalscorer in the country, one who doesn’t need gifts from any accreditation panel. Long may that continue.