Ex-Liverpool winger McManaman hails 'phenomenal' Salah
But former Liverpool winger McManaman feels Egyptian can't be compared to legendary Fowler yet
Pochettino, Wenger face off in high-stakes derbyPAGE 46
Praise does not come much higher for Mohamed Salah than from one of Liverpool's greatest exports.
A player supposedly not cut out for life at Chelsea now currently looks down on them in the English Premier League table.
With 21 goals in 25 EPL games, Salah is preparing to take Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane (22 goals) down to the wire in this season's Golden Boot race.
Even Steve McManaman, Anfield's last genuine wing wizard, has been taken aback by Salah's explosive start at Anfield since the Egyptian's £34-million (S$63.4m) arrival from Serie A side Roma in June.
"He's surprised a lot of people," McManaman told The New Paper in an exclusive interview.
"I've seen him a number of times for Roma in the last few years, watching him in the Champions League, and he's always had an abundance of chances.
"But this year, he's converted the majority of them.
"Nobody expected him to score the goals he has done. People expected him to be a really good player and we knew he was a good player. But he's exceeded most expectations.
"His goalscoring record has been phenomenal. The fact that he has lots of chances during a game, he's been an incredible signing."
Robbie Fowler, McManaman's ex-teammate with both the Reds and Manchester City, agrees.
"He's had a phenomenal start to his Liverpool career," said Fowler.
"Look, we're Liverpool fans and we want them to do well. We want them to be fighting for every trophy and win every game.
"The more he scores, the better as far as we're concerned so, long may it continue."
Reaching 20 EPL goals quicker than Fowler and many other illustrious names in Liverpool's record books has already placed Salah ahead of the curve but McManaman, 45, refused to place the Egyptian on a par with the man who scored 183 times in 369 games at Liverpool just yet.
On the comparisons between Salah and Fowler, McManaman said: "When he's done it for 10 years, then I'll say he's as good as him.
"But after one year, I wouldn't say he's as good as Robbie Fowler, no."
Juergen Klopp's side remain 18 points off the pace at the league's summit, with McManaman admitting that leaders City remain a cut above the rest.
The two-time Champions League winner, however, believes that Liverpool's season cannot be quantified as either a success or failure until the end of the campaign.
"They've been okay, actually. They could do better, of course, like most teams," he said.
"There's only one team who's outstanding and everybody else is trying to catch up.
"If they (Liverpool) were still in the FA Cup, probably you'd say it was a great season all-in-all, fighting on three fronts to a certain extent.
"They're still going in the Champions League, they're doing so well in the league at the minute.
"They need to stay in the Champions League spots.
"It's easy to talk about it when they are in third and in the Champions League.
"It's at the end of the season (that they can be judged) and they need to stay where they are now."
Europe's elite club competition offers Liverpool a final chance of silverware this season. They will head into the first leg of a Round-of-16 meeting against Porto next Thursday morning (Singapore time).
McManaman, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2000 and 2002, doesn't see why Liverpool can't defy the odds and go all the way.
"They could win it but it's going to be very difficult," he admitted.
"There are better teams out there across Europe than Liverpool, of course there are, but they could win it in a knockout stage.
"They're favourites to beat Porto and then they need a decent-enough draw, you would think, and they're going to have to stay away from some of the big boys.
"But they're going to have to meet them later on down the line and in a two-legged competition, home and away, they can always beat everybody."
* Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler were speaking ahead of the LFC Foundation's Legends Charity Match between Liverpool and Bayern Munich at Anfield on March 24.