Henry Jackson

Feature Writer

Liverpool Need More From Philippe Coutinho

The 21-year-old is a fantastic talent, and a potential future Reds superstar, but Henry Jackson (@OnFootballTweet) believes the Brazilian has been disappointing of late.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 2, 2013: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Arsenal during the Premiership match at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First things first, before I receive a tirade of abuse, this is not saying Philippe Coutinho is not a marvellous footballer. Since arriving at Anfield a year ago he has produced some moments of magic, particularly with his fantastic vision. He has the potential to become one of the best players in the Premier League.

My point is that, in the last month or so, he has been one of Liverpool’s weaker players, especially given his talent. Whether it be in the outstanding away win at Tottenham or the frustrating defeat to Chelsea, he has been disappointing by his standards.

His final ball has not been clinical enough, his shooting has left a lot to be desired and even his fitness levels have looked below par in some of the more gruelling matches. While the likes of Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling have been superb, it has often been Coutinho to blame for losing the ball or choosing the wrong option in vital areas.

The hugely gifted Brazilian has also only found the back of the net twice this season, which for a player of his ability is not good enough. One was virtually impossible to miss, against Everton, while the other, the opener away to Manchester City, was also pretty straightforward in all honesty.

He has had 59 attempts on goal this season, which highlights the fact that his finishing can be very erratic. Too often he has done the hard work but then failed to convert with the goal at his mercy – when he places a shot, it’s weak or wide, when he goes for power it often ends up blazing over.

As mentioned above, this is not an attack on Coutinho- he is one of the best players at the club in my opinion- it is just saying that his normally high standard has definitely dropped in recent games.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Boxing Day Thursday, December 26, 2013: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against Manchester City during the Premiership match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This current dip may well be down to the shoulder injury that kept him out for a large chunk of the early part of the season. He has never quite looked 100 per cent since his return in early November, give or take the odd moment of individual brilliance; the dribbling run against Hull, for example.

It is, of course, important to stress that Coutinho is still very young and raw. He is far from the finished article, and will only get better and better in the coming years.

He is, however, one of the most important players in Liverpool’s squad. When he is at his best he has the ability to run the show, and his link-up play with Suarez and Daniel Sturridge has often been a joy to watch. At the moment though, he is not reaching those heights.

The next three or four months are absolutely critical in Liverpool’s quest for Champions League football next season, and Brendan Rodgers and everyone associated with the club need Philippe Coutinho back to his brilliant best as soon as possible.

Freelance football writer with an enormous passion and knowledge for the game. More importantly, LFC fanatic.
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  • zergaw

    Are we really going this road? I mean, Coutinho is probably the one player that we can really call the nerve center of our attack, sometimes even more so than Suarez and Sturridge. It’s probably difficult to see it because his real genius is, I think, in making it so deceptively easy that it usually fails to register with us. But if one really wants to know his value to the team, all one really needs to do is just compare our performance in attack when he is on the field and when he is not. The most obvious example that comes to mind is the game v. Swansea, but we can also take a look at most of our games and see the difference as he is often subbed. Admittedly, all the rave is about Suarez, Hendo, Raheem etc. But I contend that Coutinho has been equally critical to the form we are enjoying currently.
    Why this creeping feeling of frustration with his end product, then? Because, I am guessing, the player and the manager are trying to add a finishing touch, so to say, to his what is already considerable arsenal. We all know that he’s really good at creating chances, now they want him to finish them too. A good idea that will probably take him sometime to succeed. This is when he needs our support. If we can put in some emotional investment now, we can only imagine the beautiful reward we will reap later. We did it for Suarez, so no reason we can’t do it for Coutinho.
    Let’s all just say: BRAVO KIDDO, KEEP IT UP!!!

    • C3PD

      The player is a great asset to the club and I agree that he is missed when not on the pitch..I just wish he could get the ball between the posts when he shoots! If I were BR, I’d have him spending two hours every day just inside and outside the box shooting until he was putting 95% in the goal..he needs to be able to shoot ‘on target’ with his eyes closed.

  • Parish D Kopite™

    this is what i think.. Coutinho is desperate to get a call up from Brazil… he wants to to play world cup…. and he’s trying to get attention of Scolari…. he has been trying just too hard… taking shots whenever he gets a chance.. he needs to relax, play it cool and not be too hard on himself….. he needs some motivation imo…. i wish he had scored against hull after that remarkable run, he would have surely made the headlines…..

  • Dom

    You also have to take in to consideration the effect the world cup is having

  • seunred

    well..what does he do at melwood then,if not to hone his shooting skills…..it was rumored that beckam practices upto 200 freekicks everyday in training….

    i mentioned it early December that something is wrong with coutinho,his form has dipped,his passes are less pinpoint,we dont even need to talk about his shots-they are woeful….he is just trying too hard….its hard for me to admit,but i cant continue to rank him in the-same league as oscar….so sad..

  • Sanny86

    A 21 year old Brazilian who is a best individual at the moment in our squad (next to Suarez ofc) is taking a beat in an article for not performing well.

    How about we take some things into a consideration:

    - Coutinho lost a few games because of a shoulder injury after a brutal tackle
    - he and Suarez are the best players in our attacking third (with DS injured) and for the oposing team, it’s not so hard to see, where the threat is coming from…

    Lets wait and see how he performs after DS returns. I believe with the trio Cou-Suarez-DS back in action, Coutinho will have more space to do his magic because defenders will have their hands full with the likes of Suarez and DS.

    Cheers

  • DAVID PAUL DOUGHTY

    I agree with this article, I also think he is a great player – but have been disappointed with the performances of late and nobody should be above a little constructive criticism. I actually think we have missed Daniel Sturridge massively in the last while too and we need him back ASAP. I think the link between Couthino and Sturridge is one of the strongest in the squad & I have a real feeling that the form of Couthino will improve when Daniel returns. I think the runs that he makes and therefore the space he creates in certain areas of the pitch really do wonders for players like Couthino and of course Suarez too.

  • gg77

    Fully agree with the article, his finishing has left me frustrated many a time.
    Don’t get me wrong either, he is a brilliant player, fancy passes, dribbling abilities, acceleration, excellent first touch – expectations are bound to be high but lets be honest – our center backs finish better than him.

    Pretty much same can be said of Sterling too, though mildly. Don’t talk about the 3-4 goals he has in the league- Suarez spoon fed those.

  • Rob Cas

    i recon that he has put on weight over the summer (to improve his phisicality)and his body dynamics have changed, he hasnt come to grips with the change so we see many passes and shots over-hit ….well its possible anyway …. for sure he has got IT and when he finds IT again he will amaze again

    • Zinho

      If he has put on weight, my wife would like to know his secret of how it doesn’t show!

  • MarcotheRed

    Like you said, he’s still very young with a long way to go in his career. One thing is for sure he’s probably with the best manager for his development. He’s 21 and we got him for £8m. Look how Hendo has come on under Rodgers. I’ve no concerns about the boy yet.

  • Robert A Simmons

    Just couldn’t agree more. I think its time for stepping up.

    • Zinho

      Patience. Remember how Luke Skywalker lost his hand by jumping the gun.

  • Watch Over

    It’s time am sure the boy will do well: his trying his best notwithstanding huge demands from funs!

  • randybowbandy

    Kolo has said he’s a special player ! booooooooom nuf said!

  • John O’Brien

    what a pointless article, why are people always focusing on the negatives, just let the young lad play and improve.

    • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

      If we took that attitude to every young player at the club, we’d be on a slippery slope. Youth is not an excuse for first-team failure. If their inexperience is their hinderance, they’re not ready yet.

      • John O’Brien

        Poor article even poorer comment back to my point, the article is about 1 player, not young players in general and even though you don’t call him a 1st team failure to even mention that is ridiculous, not quite as bad as the pie chart with his goals vs misses. If you created that chart for the majority of players it would look similar

      • Redatheart

        He is NOT a failure – he just hasn’t matured yet into the really good player he is going to be. A couple of weeks ago he was God on this site, now he’s shite. Make your minds up please. Oh, and you cant fucking write by the way but no-one is getting on your back about it – except me!

  • Arjan

    His technique at hitting the ball is poor. He needs lessons from Gerrard or Suarez. Maybe Henderson can tag along too.

  • Dom Hardie

    what a player though,

  • Zinho

    Rodgers has played him as our attacking midfielder because we failed to sign an inventive equivalent over the summer. Coutinho is a wide left player and this is his preferred position. Other comments have stated Sturridge’s absence may have reduced Coutinho’s effectiveness, but I think the greater issue has been the lack of stability in the left back position. Last season he developed a good understanding with Enrique which for obvious reasons has been unable to blossom this season. Cissokho currently appears too limited and Flanagan has not played enough to have developed an understanding with him.

    I think we need to look at what he has done so far and how similar players in the wide left position were at a similar age in the Premier League. Very few have been able to dribble through the centre of a team like he did against Hull (even Ronaldo tended to dribble down the wing rather than through the heart of a team). Although somewhat wayward this season, his passing belies his years. He seems to have the vision and invention to read the game and understand what is required. Consistency of quality is required in terms of execution, but we have evidence he is capable. As for his shooting it does need to improve. This is not too dissimilar to how Ronaldo was at the start of his United career. He still has half a season to get into double figures which, if it happens, would be a year younger than Ronaldo was when he first did it in his career.

    All in all Coutinho is already in the upper echelons of his age equivalent contemporaries. He will make mistakes, but the promise he has shown in his first year at Liverpool allied with the hope that he will improve on many levels (including consistency) has made him the most exciting wide prospect since John Barnes. So here’s hoping he is a John Barnes rather than a Harry Kewell (sorry Harry, we knew what you could deliver but it never really worked out). I, for one, think he will fulfil his potential.

  • Zinho

    I don’t think he is tired. He is young and still learning the game, so it is completely understandable to expect consistency to be an issue. At points in his Liverpool career thus far he shone so brightly and shown us what he can do that we want him to do it week in week out. Give him time and I believe he will meet and exceed our expectations.

  • Zinho

    His preferred position is wide left. As he has displayed the ability to provide the final pass, Rodgers has moved him to AM at times to fill in for a player he intends to sign specifically for that position. In the long run, I think we’ll see him remain wide left where he will shine.

  • Zinho

    He better do seeing as it’s one of Suarez’s middle names! Alberto is good, but needs time to bed in. This is his debut season as a proper first team squad player and it will take time for him to step up.

  • Zinho

    How many current players in the world show the passion levels of Suarez? Suarez has a freer reign because of the position he plays. Coutinho has to have more discipline playing wide left and even as AM. Passion doesn’t win you games ability does – if it was passion, our fans should play as we would win every game. He’s young, he has shown us he has the ability. Nurture him well and he will deliver consistently.