Second season syndrome; when someone or something fails to hit the dizzy heights of their first campaign.
There are plenty of case studies in Premier League history.
Papiss Cisse, Ipswich Town, Marco Silva.
Many feel you could add Mo Salah to that list. They are, of course, wrong.
It’s strange to think someone sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League scoring charts for the second successive season had no say in the PFA Player of the Year or Team of the Year debate.
Nobody has been involved in more goals in the top flight this season, but Salah is supposedly ‘way off the pace’ and a ‘shadow of his former self’.
But after that truly remarkable record-breaking campaign last time out, that kind of short-term, narrow-minded chat was sort of inevitable.
As a result, Salah has become the latest to fall victim to Lionel Messi syndrome™ – we are so normalised by their greatness that we no longer appreciate their achievements with any real clarity.
Messi’s numbers have been almost inconceivable for over a decade now, yet it took him until January 2016 to win a first La Liga Player of the Month award. Just let that sink in.
By that time the little Argentine freak had, among other things, already won seven of his 10 top-flight titles and broken all kinds of individual scoring records.
Sometimes recognition works in mysterious ways.
Salah’s shocking return of just the 25 goals in all competitions this season undeniably proves he’s a massive one-season wonder, doesn’t it?
Maybe he hasn’t hit the dizzy heights of last season and ‘gone missing’ in some of Liverpool’s meatier games, but his influence has been just as extensive, just more nuanced.
He has secured twice as many points from ‘big goals’ than anyone else in the title race picture, putting Sergio Aguero to shame.
The attention on him has been doubled, tripled, quadrupled after laying waste to everyone last season, which has allowed other Liverpool stars to shine.
Sadio Mane has certainly benefited from the greater space afforded to him while Salah occupies more defenders… and he duly made the PFA Player of the Year shortlist at his team-mate’s expense.
The Egyptian King joins the likes of Aguero and Eden Hazard in the under appreciated club; the former made his first Team of the Year only last season, the latter was snubbed from all shortlists this time around.
This is the Messification of football; once you reach those levels you’re elevated to a new pantheon of player.
One day, probably after they’re all gone, we”ll truly appreciate their greatness.