Sunday 15 September 2019

Reds duo will keep scoring for fun – Henderson

Mohamed Salah has 21 goals this season with Sadio Mane just one behind.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane

By Carl Markham, Press Association Sport

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson believes Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will continue to score goals “for fun” because of the way the team is set up.

The pair each scored twice in the 5-0 demolition of Huddersfield to become the Premier League’s leading two goalscorers, Salah on 21 and Mane on 20, meaning the Reds are the first club to have two players reach 20 goals in a single season since Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge did it for them in 2013-14.

Salah’s double took him to 69 goals in his first 100 appearances for the club, beating the record of 68 set by Roger Hunt and Sam Raybould.

Mane, meanwhile, is having his best goalscoring season since arriving in England in September 2014.

They keep getting in the right areas and if we keep feeding them then they'll score goals for fun. Jordan Henderson

“It’s amazing. The work-rate as well, which people don’t look at as much because they want to look at the goals,” Henderson told liverpoolfc.com.

“They work hard for the team and when they get in front of goal they’re clinical. That’s the most important thing.

“They keep getting in the right areas and if we keep feeding them then they’ll score goals for fun.”

Salah was not included on the short-list for PFA Player of the Year – perhaps suffering from high expectations after scoring 44 in his debut season for the club – but Mane was.

The Senegal international came into form at exactly the right time, scoring 16 times in his last 18 appearances.

“He always had the ability, but his mindset was more of a creator, a door-opener than somebody that runs through the door himself but you saw this season that he can play easily as a number nine as well,” said manager Jurgen Klopp.

Mane scored two headers against Huddersfield and that new-found aerial prowess prompted Klopp to liken his in-form forward to basketball great Michael Jordan.

“If you see him in the air, I’m not sure anybody jumped that high since Air Jordan!” he said. “The third one, it looks like he stands in the air – and he hit the post!

“It’s cool, but we are where we are because the boys are as good as they are.

“But they couldn’t score if the boys from the wings were not passing these balls, Hendo again from the half-space, brilliant ball (for the second goal) – from the training ground, it’s nice to see these things.”

While Liverpool’s destiny at the top of the table remains in the hands of Manchester City, who travel to Burnley on Sunday, thoughts now turn to a huge Champions League semi-final in Barcelona on Wednesday – for which key forward Roberto Firmino remains a doubt with a slight muscle tear.

“We all know how difficult it is to go to Barcelona, but it’s a huge game that everyone wants to be involved in and play in,” added Henderson.

“It’ll be a great occasion, but one where we’ve got to be fully focused on what we need to do because they’re a good side and we’ve seen how good they can be, especially at the Nou Camp.

“Tough game but one that we’re really looking forward to.”

Liverpool’s Under-18s, meanwhile, have dedicated Thursday’s FA Youth Cup win over Manchester City to former academy player Stephen Darby, who was forced to retire earlier this season.

Darby won two Youth Cup finals against Manchester United and City and after six first-team appearances he went on to make almost 250 appearances for Bradford.

The 30-year-old retired last autumn while at Bolton after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, for which he has subsequently set up a foundation to raise funds and awareness about the condition.

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Stephen Darby was forced to retire this season after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease (Tim Goode/PA)

“Stephen was very much in our thoughts this week,” said academy director Alex Inglethorpe.

“He played in our last Youth Cup-winning team in 2007 and captained the team to victory in 2006.

“He’s one of us and a huge part of our history as an academy.”

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