If there is one rule in the English football media, it is to never take Garth Crooks’ opinion seriously.
But upon the release of the BBC Sport pundit’s Team of the Year for 2021, many supporters were baffled by his omission of Salah.
That is the Salah who led the Premier League for both goals and assists across the calendar year, and is widely considered the best player in the world on current form.
Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Michail Antonio were Crooks’ preferred front three, with fans criticising him as a “brainless moron” and “the very worst pundit out there.”
Now, he has responded to the controversy over his Team of the Year, as he included Salah in his latest Team of the Week following a spectacular goal against Chelsea.
“I heard my non-selection of Mohamed Salah in my team of the year got one or two a little hot under the collar,” Crooks wrote.
“Well, I make no apologies for that. Salah made my team of the season but crudely chased the Golden Boot award.
“His selfishness had a negative effect on Sadio Mane in particular and, in my view, had an adverse effect on Liverpool’s campaign last season – a point I made at the time.
“This season Salah looks like a team player again and his goals are coming naturally.
“He is no longer looking for cheap penalties and is back to the player he was the season Liverpool won the title, and that’s why he makes my team of the week.”
Salah was at fault for Mane’s downturn in form and having spent a year attempting to con referees into awarding penalties, he is now focused on playing the right way again.
It makes complete sense, and Crooks should be forgiven for leaving Liverpool’s No. 11 out of his Team of the Year at the expense of Saka, Foden and Antonio.
Thankfully, now Salah is “back to the player he was,” Mane is also firing on all cylinders, no longer burdened by the selfish forward alongside him.