Mohamed Salah – PFA Player of the Year

Liverpool FC is having a season for the ages and the primary reason is the magic being created by Mohamed Salah.  Salah has been nothing short of magnificent with his goal scoring and passionate play for LFC this season and it was rewarded tonight with him winning the PFA Player of the Year award.  It’s a reward well-earned and long may his form continue.  Salah beat out three Manchester City players, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Leroy Sane, David de Gea of Manchester United and Harry Kane from Tottenham for the award.  While none can argue about the success Man City has had this season, led by De Bruyne, no player has had the impact Salah has had on his team and the results he gets on the pitch speak to that.  City have been run away league winners this season but Salah has consistently stolen the spotlight because of his goal scoring and the energy he has breathed into a legendary club.  He’s also had a profound impact on the International scene by leading his nation, Egypt, to the World Cup Finals which are being played this summer in Russia.

Nobody expected Salah to have the impact on Liverpool that he has had this season.  After failing to sign him a few seasons back, Liverpool have managed to secure his services without much fanfare, although they did set a club record with the signing last summer.   We all hoped he would make a positive influence on the team but we went into the season concerned that the team still did not have a legitimate center forward and our star player, Philipe Coutinho, was clearly unsettled by FC Barcelona’s attempt at signing him last summer.  Bobby Firmino is a very good player and he was being considered a false 9 for Liverpool and we all hoped this arrangement would manifest into something positive for the team.  We had Sadio Mane and we all knew he was good but how will they all work together?  Will Coutinho be able to replicate last year’s form and play through all the drama surrounding his tumultuous summer?  What has happened is nothing short of magnificent.  In spite of ultimately losing Coutinho in January to Barca, the team pressed on and Firmino has solidified himself as not only a solid #9 center forward but he also creates many of the goals that both Salah and Mane have scored and he’s pitched in with 25 goals himself.  Mane’s form has not been stellar this season but he still has 17 goals.  Salah, however, has been the catalyst, as he draws so much attention from defenders because of his speed, desire and industry and this has led to an incredible 41 goals and 11 assists from 46 appearances this season, with more to come.  His impact electrified the club before Coutinho’s departure and has buoyed the team after it to a point that many do not miss the Brazilian playmaker.   To date, the team has banged in 123 goals in all competitions and we still have a handful of games left.

Liverpool are currently 3rd in the EPL table and this position seems secure as of this writing.  It would take quite a bit of good fortune for Chelsea to catch Liverpool in the standings with only 3 games left for Liverpool and 4 for Chelsea, with a game between these two teams coming up in a couple of weeks.  Chelsea have to win this game and get a ton of help from other teams to have any chance at catching Liverpool, as a Liverpool win would see them clinch a spot in the top 4.  Outside of that, Liverpool find themselves in the semi-finals of the Champions League and are matched up with Salah’s former club, Roma.  This element adds a ton of spice to this matchup as Salah was with Roma last season and he clearly enjoyed his time playing in Rome.  The first leg is at Anfield and Liverpool will hope to take a lead and a clean sheet to Rome and secure a spot in the final.  Liverpool are the darlings of the Champions League and I’m sure UEFA would love to match them up with either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the final, no disrespect to Roma.  It’s hard for me to pick a desired opponent, as Madrid have won this trophy more times than anyone and a Madrid/Liverpool final would be a huge draw but then there is Bayern, who have pursued Liverpool’s coach, Jurgen Klopp, in the past and I’m sure they would like nothing more than to bring Klopp back to his home country to lead them.  But before we jump to conclusions, Salah must lead his current club past his old club in the Champions League and hold another one of his old clubs off in the EPL!  You can’t write a better script for the end of this season and we will all be on the edge of our seats for the next few weeks while this all unfolds.

Liverpool have been exciting and frustrating this season and the main reason for all the excitement is the PFA Player of the Year, Mohamed Salah.  Let’s hope that Salah and Liverpool can finish the EPL season strong and end the season with Champions League glory.  The legendary season he has had deserves nothing less.

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Matt Ryan’s Contract

As a fan of the Falcons, it concerns me that it’s taking so long to get Matt Ryan’s extension done.  It can’t be questioned that he’s been the best quarterback in the history of the franchise and it should be a no brainer about getting the deal done.  Or is it?  What is the current market for elite quarterbacks?  Is Matt Ryan elite?  How reasonable is it to have Ryan as the highest paid player at his position in the league?  How long will he play or how long does he expect to play?  How will this extension affect the team’s salary cap for the foreseeable future?  Who else can the Falcons turn to?

Ryan is without a doubt an elite quarterback in the NFL and to question that is a bit ludicrous.  Yeah, I get it.  He hasn’t won a Super Bowl but I know a lot of world class athletes who have never won a championship in a variety of sports.  I also know a lot of players, quarterbacks and others, who are nowhere near the middle, let alone the top, of their profession who have been fortunate enough to be on a hot team that has managed to win a championship.  To say that Ryan isn’t an elite QB is to discredit what he’s accomplished so far in his career and when you compare him to others in position, it is clear that he is far better than most.  The list of QBs in the NFL I consider at Ryan’s level or above is very short and a lot of marginal players who play in bigger markets, get more credit and slack than they deserve.   Ryan’s stats are undeniable and he holds records any Hall of Fame player would boast about.  If he keeps up this pace, the numbers he will put up when he retires will rival any who have played this game.  Yet he does not get the respect he deserves from the national pundits and, sadly, a good portion of his own fanbase.  This baffles me but the rationale behind this feeling is a topic for another blog.

Ryan can probably play at an elite level for another 5-6 years, so this contract is his last opportunity to really cash in on a big payday.  Why shouldn’t he cash in?  Hasn’t he deserved it?  Nobody expected the success he’s had in Atlanta, a franchise mired in mediocrity for the majority of its existence, and there is no reason to think he will not continue to be successful.  He’s been the QB for the last 10 years and in those years, he’s been able to generate the same number of winning seasons than the team has been able to generate in the previous 42 years of its existence.  Some would argue that Ryan is the one indispensable player on the current Falcons roster and I have to agree with that.  Other players on an extremely talented roster have been hurt and missed games and the Falcons can still find ways to win or be competitive because of consistent play from the QB.  Fortunately, he’s been extremely durable and let’s hope that continues.  Without Ryan, the Falcons will not win.  Period.

NFL salaries are ridiculous and most people could not comprehend earning this much money in such a short period of time, although I would sure like to try.  Ryan has one year left on his current deal that has paid him an average of just over $20 million a season.  By comparison, Kirk Cousins has just signed the richest QB deal in the NFL at $28 million per season.  Aaron Rodgers, currently considered the best QB in the league, is also on the verge of a new deal and he’s currently earning $22 million a season.  The numbers are staggering but when you consider that only one of the top five paid QBs in the league has won a playoff game or even been to the playoffs, the ceiling for Ryan is astronomical.  Should Ryan sign a team friendly deal and get paid less than players with a fraction of his success?  Why should he?  You could argue that taking less so the team can get more talented players that are needed would help win a Super Bowl and seal Ryan’s legacy as an elite winner in the NFL.  That’s a solid argument that carries a lot of weight and it’s one I can get behind.  However, if we are to be fair to the player I consider the greatest Falcon ever, Ryan has more than earned the contract he’s looking for and I think the Falcons should try their best to sign him to a 5 or 6 year extension that will pay him an average of $30 million a season but weighted to affect the cap in the last 2 years of the deal.  The salary cap goes up every year, so locking Ryan in now will benefit the team now and in future years.  Let’s go Falcons.  Take care of Ryan.  He should not be allowed to wear another NFL uniform.  The championships will come.

Beginnings

Hi all.  I’m doing this to explore my creative side and voice my opinions on topics that interest me.  I have interests that I want to explore like politics, movies, shows, food and travel.  I intend to blog about all of them, as they are fun and lead to great conversations.  My opinions are my own and I like debating topics that affect us all, so feel free to comment and share with your friends and contacts so that we can have civil conversations.

I’ll state my sports allegiances here:

Atlanta Falcons (NFL)

Liverpool FC (EPL)

Boston Celtics (NBA)

Atlanta United (MLS)

New York Yankees (MLB)

I have other teams that I follow but these are the important ones.  I’m loyal to my teams and will defend them for all I’m worth but I’m not above issuing some criticism when needed.  There have been lots of highs and lows but there has never been a dull moment.

I really love to travel and will discuss where I’ve been, where I intend to go and experiences I have when I travel in the future.  Experiencing new cultures is always fascinating and it’s something that nobody should pass up when given the opportunity.

I’m a real foodie.  I love to eat and experience new foods from different cultures.  I have my favorites and will share what I think is good and what my readers should try.  Let me know what you like and I’ll try it and give you my take on it.

I’m a political junkie.  I enjoy the process and the debate involved and the personalities make following politics even more interesting than most other topics.  I lean liberal but have a lot of conservative values so I’m a bit of a hybrid when it comes to political stances.  I expect readers to agree and disagree with me but that’s what this is all about.  Let’s talk about it.

My favorite kind of movies and shows are thrillers, mysteries, comedies, action and comic based movies and shows.  I watch others when pressed but will be more than happy to express my opinions on movies that I watch.

I’m curious on where this will lead me and can’t wait to get started.  Let’s have some fun.