Phillipe Coutinho – Player to Watch
“Brains of the Team”
Summer’s drawing to a close and by the signs of the unpredictable British weather we’ve become accustomed to fans across the country are aware of the implications. Premier League football is well and truly on the horizon. How exciting. Well it should be ‘exciting’. However, Liverpool fans would not begrudge me for saying there is a air of scepticism regarding their hyper-charged title assault which commences on the 16th of August at home to a depleted Saints side ransacked for spare parts by the Anfield outfit.
A majority of the pessimistic outlook could be blamed on the departure of influential talisman Luis Suarez as he swapped Merseyside for an unlimited amounts of Estrada, which will most likely land him with a non-footballing related ‘bitacation’ (Altercation only with a bite involved). Although, I preach optimism above all else as in Phillipe Coutinho they have a talent that doesn’t come around often; especially on these shores at least.
Hailed “Brains of the Team” by Chief Inspector Rodgers, Phillipe is just that. With every touch, every deceptive side-step Coutinho’s eye-catching approach sets him apart from those who are content to play it safe within the confines of a imaginary 10yrd circle so beloved by Squawka mules. In every day language, whilst a horizontal pass keeps possession it has become all to familiar with a possession-orientated system managers are beginning to use. Coutinho is a play-maker who defies that trend.
So far in pre-season Coutinho has been ‘THE’ Liverpool player to watch on their tour of North America. Primarily sandwiched in-between 2 wide-players on either side Coutinho has continued where he left off last season in his newly found CM role. Now, that is not to say Coutinho wasn’t used in the Number 10 role beforehand, yet the second-half of last season showed a more intriguing side to the Brazilians game.
As this video will testify:
Liverpool’s frontline received all the plaudits last campaign, but Coutinho’s conversion back into the middle of pitch introduced an extra man in midfield to help negate situations Liverpool faced in games such as Aston Villa at home (2-2 – Coutinho subbed off at half-time for Lucas) when Gerrard and Henderson appeared to be outnumbered. Thus, Coutinho worked tirelessly with Rodgers’s in the New Year to mould him into a deeper-lying midfield marshall, capable of infiltrating defences from deep, whilst also offering relentless pressing to opposition midfields in a midfield trio.
Yet, as the new Premier League season is nearly upon us, what remains to be seen is how much of an influence Coutinho will become in the absence of Luis Suarez. Gaging from his pre-season displays his ability to pull the strings in his side has seen him take on more responsibility in him providing the link from midfield to attack.
As far as the cliches go Coutinho has finished his transitional period at Anfield with a full Premier League season well under his belt. The Anfield crowd have been treated to more than their fair share of World Class stars over the years. Whilst, Coutinho is flirting with names such as Beardsley in his prime, he is some way off being regarded as a World Class talent. Caution is to be promoted as pre-season form has no bearings on competitive action.
Nevertheless, Coutinho is showing fledging signs that Liverpool’s season will undoubtedly revolve for the most part on how well Coutinho can continue to provide ammunition in terms of both providing chances as well as finishing them off (the latter in which requires work on his part).
Southampton are first up at Anfield for Coutinho and Co. From what we’ve seen so far expect Coutinho to line-up just behind Daniel Sturridge. Right now he is playing with such flair and precision that Man of the Match display wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. Depending on how well the Saints cut off the space in which he can operate will decide whether Coutinho’s impact can be thwarted. Although, I doubt Saints will offer much resistance so I predict Coutinho will run riot on Sunday tea-time.
Coutinho is on a mission to impress. Blink and you’ll miss it.