The Footballing Pharaoh
Mo Salah, the modern age footballing Pharaoh, is in danger of having more mythical stories and legends written about his golden boot, how he conquered Europe and terrified mere mortals far and wide across the globe than the ancient Pharaohs themselves. However, like all mythical characters, there is an Achilles heel.
Salah is no Superman
Now, most of you think at this moment in time that I am going to pen some scholarly words pertaining to his poorly ankle to illustrate the kryptonite which pains him so much. However, I don’t think it’s fair to compare Salah to Superman; he’s got enough pressure as it is. From the outside looking in, it would seem that his ankle injury isn’t as severe as is being speculated in the media. I shouldn’t imagine that it will sideline him for the rest of the season; however, I would imagine that it will now take several weeks, possibly between 4 to 6 to settle to a satisfactory level where Mo feels like he is happy to play again, again this is just a humble opinion. Mo is the central character here, and he will ultimately decide when he feels he is ready.
Even the Mighty Egyptians Fell
Just like ancient Egypt is a museum of times gone by, so too are millions of playing careers. If you have recently stopped playing for your Saturday or Sunday league team / 5-a-side team or retired as a professional footballer due to injury or increasing age, then you too will know that a playing career disappears almost without warning and what you thought would never end as an 18-year-old, is now gone in what feels like is no more than the blink of an eye. Now imagine that you are rated as one of the Top Three footballers in the world and you can’t shake an injury which is robbing you of folklore. A gift that has been bestowed upon you but now you are unable to perform. A forecast of 4 to 6 weeks may feel like an eternity, especially if you have attempted to join the front line and failed already. Again, there will be no guarantees upon your next return. Imagine the weight of every Red across the globe lying firmly on your ankle. Imagine your teammates and manager asking you every morning how is your ankle? How would you answer it? How would it make you feel? I’m sure you would agree that the constant attention from all in sundry on this injury would surely have an impact on one’s mental health.
Forecasting: A Fools Gold
Forecasting a probable return to play date following a serious ankle injury is a treacherous game indeed. The ankle is a fickle mistress and regaining full pain-free movement can be particularly troublesome. In many cases a lot of professional footballers never regain full movement or function of the ankle post-injury which can lead to a sequelae of future injuries due to the inability to accept or generate forces through the joint. My hunch, in this situation is that this will not be the case with Salah and given the scaffold of the sports medicine team around him at Liverpool, I am sure he will make a satisfactory recovery from a physical standpoint. However, injuries can mentally scar and affect our behaviour when it comes to battle.
The Batman Factor
Jürgen Klopp feels it is “nothing serious”, probably a measure of how good he is as a manager rather than his clinical reasoning skills around ankle injuries. And in fairness to the gaffer, he is handling this injury woe very well indeed. Like Batman, Salah has travelled the earth to seek an answer to ease his pain. However, as is the case with Batman, the answer lies within rather than in some distant foreign land. Salah’s real battle lies not with the restoration of his ankle from a physical standpoint but with his ability to cope mentally with this injury. If he so wishes he can take this opportunity to practice patience, improve his mental resilience, and with this, he will come back an even better player. For within adversity lies opportunity in wait. However, this is easier written than done and will require Salah to make a conscientious effort to culture a strong mindset. He will have to pay particular attention to his thoughts and only attend to those which predict a favourable outcome.
The problem with Mummification
Unlike as is tradition in Egypt, there is no advantage to wrapping Salah up in Linen bandages, for this will bear no fruit in Champions League warfare. From Salah’s posts on social media, it looks like his rehab is well structured and attends to the skillset needed to play for the Mighty Reds again. During the coming few weeks he will be working on balance, landing mechanics, jumping, hopping, changing direction, running, sprinting and kicking. He is in safe hands, and I am sure he will reign red terror again across Europe.
Fantasy Football Physio Columnist