Mohamed Salah criticism 'unfair', says Bournemouth's Steve Cook
Cook reveals he apologised to Salah after his tackle at the Vitality Stadium
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 12/12/18 12:06pm
Bournemouth defender Steve Cook says the criticism Mohamed Salah has received this season has been unfair and called him one of the "best players in the world".
The Liverpool forward scored a hat-trick as Jurgen Klopp's side recorded a 4-0 victory on the south coast last weekend, a result which put them top of the Premier League.
Salah's performances in the early stages of the season were questioned by some after he registered just three goals in his first eight appearances. He now has five goals in his last five games and Cook disagrees with the criticism aimed at the Egypt international earlier in the season.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the Bournemouth centre-back said: "He's come under unfair criticism this year but he's obviously worked extremely hard to get to where he is now.
"His willingness to run in behind and his work rate really stood out. You can be an extremely talented footballer but if you're not willing to work and put in the dogged performances you're not going to get anywhere.
"I didn't cope with him at all, which is really frustrating because you want to perform well against the best players in the world."
Salah's opener at the Vitality Stadium was his 40th Premier League goal for Liverpool in just 52 appearances, meaning he has reached the milestone in fewer games than any other player at the club.
The Egyptian scored his second goal just after half time, managing to stay on his feet after being caught by Cook in the build-up.
"I was planning to flick his heel and I got quite close to him and I ended up coming down on his ankle," Cook said.
"It didn't look great, but I spoke to him after he scored and I apologised. He was fine and there was no intention to hurt him."
The defeat to Liverpool was the first time Bournemouth have conceded four goals at home this season and Cook, who has started every league game this campaign, was disappointed that he couldn't contain Salah.
"It was an extremely difficult day for myself," Cook added.
"We probably gave him chances that we shouldn't have but he was there to take them so fair play to him."
Bournemouth face Wolves at Molineux on Saturday in their next Premier League fixture. Having beaten Newcastle in their last outing, Cook is expecting a difficult game.
He said: "They look a very good team. They're very attacking and they've come into the Premier League and played the football they did in the Championship.
"They've really come in with a lot of confidence and won some good games and responded well to defeats as well. So it's going to be a really tough day."