Philippe Coutinho Must Find Form To Kickstart Misfiring Reds

02.01.2016


When backs are against the wall a team needs its best players to stand up and be counted. Something that doesn’t happen in this current Liverpool squad.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 2, 2016: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against West Ham United during the Premier League match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There are several players at Liverpool who are paid to do just this and in the case of Philippe Coutinho, who is one such player, his contract signed at the start of 2015 was a reward for some excellent performances.

There are others who should also contribute more, but plenty has been said about poor attacking performances from the likes of Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke; the latter’s flaws being even more glaring when he fails to score, as was the case against West Ham on Saturday.

But Coutinho – undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s best players – is a player who needs to start reminding us of what he can do with those magical Brazilian feet other than cut inside from the left and shoot right-footed over the bar.

The obligatory end of year highlight reel contained several Coutinho moments, including his crossbar rattler against Southampton in February, and a screamer against Manchester City the month later, but his attempts to replicate these since can waste some good attacking positions for his side.

His last goal, and arguably last good performance, came against Manchester City; a game in which his compatriot Firmino was leading the line, and when Jurgen Klopp’s men were firing on all cylinders.

After this he missed a few games with a thigh injury, and hasn’t performed since returning.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 21, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Manchester City's Martin Demichelis during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Lexie Lin/Propaganda)

The striking problem ahead of him doesn’t help things. He longs for the return of Daniel Sturridge as much as anyone, and is often forced to shoot because there is simply nothing else on.

The Reds’ No.10 is a player who like runners ahead of him, and at Upton Park there was the odd glimpse of this when he played in Moreno on the left and looked for similar passes to the Spaniards replacement Brad Smith.

You’d expect the most attacking playmaker to be finding the striker more often than not, but his favoured outlet was the aforementioned Moreno down the left, or Emre Can inside or behind him. He passed to these players seven times each, with his next favourite – and often very predictable – option being to shoot.

Coutinho Shooting (Via FourFourTwo Statszone)
Coutinho has hit the target just once from 17 shots in the Reds’ last 3 games. All very predictable.

He let off a total of six shots, which was more than any other player on the pitch, and of these shots five were blocked and the other one ballooned over the bar. It’s been a familiar story in recent weeks.


Against West Ham the 23-year-old completed 71% of his passes and did manage to create two chances for his team-mates, including the cross for Joe Allen’s header in the final minutes from which the Welshman should have scored.

One of his passes out to Moreno should also have led to a goal, but Benteke failed to make contact with the ball once Moreno had played it back to him. These are the moments where Coutinho could do with a little help from his teammates.

The excuse that he needs a pacy intelligent runner ahead of him can only stretch so far (even though it is a valid reason for his troubles), and while his shooting technique has improved since his early days at the club, it’s safe to say that he tries one or two long shots too many.

If he continues to play with an apparently incompatible striker in the shape of Benteke, then the answer might lie in a positional change.

Moving Coutinho to the centre where he has the option to play in both full-backs rather than one, as well as looking for the forward runs of his fellow midfielders, would lead to more of the types of ball which he’s been playing out to Moreno.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, New Year's Day, January 1, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Leicester City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It might also suit fellow Brazilian Firmino, who could find more space on the left than he does in the packed areas he’s currently working in. It’s a position the No.11 was used to playing at Hoffenheim, and it would also mean he could make runs down the left which would in turn provide another outlet for Coutinho.

When Firmino moved from the Bundesliga to England in the summer, it seemed like the ideal system would have himself and Coutinho swapping places between the left and central positions, but this hasn’t happened so far.

As much as Coutinho’s level of effectiveness has a lot to do with those around him, he also needs to take some responsibility of his own and not merely revert to wayward long shooting when there are no options available.


His link-up play with Emre Can has been encouraging, and maybe this partnership could help kickstart a resurgence as Klopp and the fans hope he can reach a level of consistency, and return to being one of the best players in the league.

 

WEST HAM 2–0 LIVERPOOL

MATCH REPORT: Spineless Reds easily beaten

PLAYER RATINGS: Can leads the way on gloomy afternoon 

TACTICAL OVERVIEW: West Ham profit as Benteke ignores the channels

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81 COMMENTS

    • True. I can’t believe that nobody else has received any criticism for the poor performances and results at LFC…

      • its a huge burden for him.. at this very young age..when senior players failed to perform and guide the rest….
        he takes too many shots at times… but do u blame him when the rest are rubbish as well???

          • i don’t deny that… what i meant by senior is much elder players. Too many articles pointing at his mistakes and too many others are escaping from being punished by comments. Just because he has been carrying the team, i don’t think its fair to do this to him. He was not brought in only to score.. but to create… and its not his mistake if players like Benteke is static… i know Ben is no Studg… but Phil is no savior as well.

  1. Phil Coutinho and Sturridge must find form to paper over the cracks of an expensive, unbalanced, mentally fragile squad that is incapable of taking us where we want to go with any certainty.

  2. With other players providing nothing, oppositions are just now focussing on just stopping Coutinho. There’s always two or three players around him when he gets the ball. He cannot carry the team alone. The movement ahead of him is non existent. He never looked so poor when Sturridge or Sterling were in the team.

    • He has to stop trying to carry the team, cause he doesn’t have the ability to at this stage, only making things worse trying to do everything

  3. The whole attacking set of players need to sort their decision making out. It seems that Phil is trying too hard. There were times today when others were on and he shot. It’s clear he’s hitting and hoping.

    Yes the rest need to chip with creating chances and Benteke today had 3-4 chances and he didn’t hit the target on any of them.

    We can’t place the whole burden on Phil’s shoulders. It seems he’s trying too hard because he cares. A great personality to have and if we had more like him in the team we would flourish.

  4. I’d drop Cout, Bentcrapy, Firmin. Useless the lot of them.
    Cout is average at best 90% of the time.
    Simple NOT good enough

  5. Moving Coutinho behind the striker would be slightly better than him fulfilling one of the wide forward roles, but he would doubtless continue to fire off way too many shots. Moving him into a deeper role in midfield would be the best move for all parties.

    I really do hope that Texeira is given the opportunity to play his way into the team in the place of Coutinho/Firmino/Lallana in the upcoming cup games, and the rest have a good think about how they can help the team when Sturridge isn’t around

  6. We’ve known this for a long time now. Coutinho blows hot and cold. When he is on song, he is next to unstoppable but when not, he can be really frustrating with his aimless shots to nowhere. He is still 23 years old and there is plenty of time for him to develop that consistency. But what we do know now is that Coutinho is not one to be relied on and we need that taccking threat. Sturridge normally provides it but sadly we know about his injuries.

  7. I hate to say it but since SG came back the team has started to play with a nervousness. I also get worried when he starts speaking to the press, “this managers the best I’ve ever had”, or “this player is one of the best I ever played with” or with BR it was ” if I had him as a coach when I was younger I’d of won more” it’s BS Steve. We love you 4 what u done in the past but the players need to carve their own reputations YNWA

    • SG is a club legend and can say what he wants.

      The current players are largely useless cowards who are not fit to shine SG’s boots.

      That is the problem, not SGs comments.

  8. Klopp put his reputation on the line taking up an useless bunch of journeymen and now suffering the consequences.

    • Klopp knew he was taking an ” impossible” job but he was also aware that things are going to take time come right. There is no quick fix, and he highlighted this but we fans become zealous when we win. We have to be realistic.

      Klopp might win the league with LFC but it may not come until the 2017-2018

  9. You can understand why Klopp puts him there. He has more pace than Firmino. It would be tempting to say he doesn’t look happy out wide but if the front four showed the kind movement and fluidity they did against City I don’t think he’d be that bothered. I reckon he just thinks Benteke is sh!t. The look he gave him after a lovely ball when he was caught offside again would suggest so.

    • Couts does have this lack of trust issue. To be honest, its a sad reflection of couts the player and man than benteke. No matter a player is incompetent or what. You do your professional duty and responsibility.

      There was a phase in the middle when I repeatedly commented that couts doesn’t trust anyone except his Brazilian guys, hendo, lallana and studge. It got the such extreme points that I have rewatched games to keep count of how many times couts even passed to anyone else except for the players I mentioned. He just didn’t. Cut inside, shoot. Head down, dribble, cut inside, shoot. Rinse and repeat.

      Does he not realise that by now defenders in the third division of Estonia know that’s what he is going to do when he gets the ball near the box? It’s become so predictable, I’m inclined to argue that if he just passes the ball from that position, it will be a certain goal as defenders will stand there shocked that he passed.

      Sure benteke and movement is an issue, but I don’t think it’s a good reflection of any player’s capabilities and mentality if they rely on other players to look good or bad. I mean you can still make that excuse for a 30 something player with not the legs to be at his best, but not a player approaching his peak and in the prime of his life. This same thing applies to hendo as well. Many times last year people said that hendo doesn’t play well because of this guy or that guy..for me, I have always counted that against hendo.

        • Oh its not like I haven’t. Once or twice people said I was too harsh on him. I think maybe we expect an lot more from him which is why we demand higher standards from him

          • Not sure why people hold him up as a shining light, he has always been the same player… Sad thing is, it kinda highlights just how low we have fallen if we consider majorly inconsistent and selfish players as our best.

          • That is true.. But the whole league barely has more than 10 world class players currently. Most of them are aggregated by barca, Madrid and Bayern

          • Do we only class players as world class if they are at these top teams? or can we not suggest others are WC also…either way, Coutinho isn’t among em’

    • Coutinho needs to be in the middle i don’t know what Klopp is doing.
      Benteke to the bench already and Mignonette out

  10. At the moment its like we’re playing with 3/4 players sent off.

    I’m not defending Benteke but a lot of his problems is the supply he’s getting from the people behind him. When you get few opportunities you’re going to snap at them. He has so much pressure on him at the moment and he’s chocking. At 32.5 mil he should be doing better.

    So we have the three behind him, Coutinho, Firmino and Lallanaa. All have been missing since City really.

    Coutinho: when things don’t go his way he resorts to shoot on site.
    Firmino: Needs to sit out for a while. He is just a passenger at the moment. We don’t really know his best position either.
    Adam: Only one who offers something else when his zero end product fails him. We missed his energy and pressing up top today, but I doubt he could have played 90 mins today, the guy looks shattered. At the same time we need more from him up top, we need someone to give that invention and he doesn’t look like that at the moment.

    And then we have Benteke. He is a fantastic striker, he really is. But I have no idea why we bought him, well I kinda do but at the same time I don’t know why him. You want a dynamic CF and he’s a lot of things but I don’t think he’s dynamic enough yet. We’re not playing to his strengths, we have no one who can cross a ball (except maybe brad smith and the odd lallana cross if he’s not dancing) so he’s struggling.

    Something I have also noticed is when Coutinho plays with a player like Benteke (Lambert/Balo/) he just seems to be like “sod this, i’m going for goal” every single time. Do you remember his first half season when he came to the club? Didn’t shoot that often but the amount of killer through balls and crazy outside of the boot passes to sturridge were outstanding. His passing and vision was exemplary. Now we only talk about his wonder goals and wonder misses.

    We wouldn’t need his wonder goals if we had the “brains” of the team back.

    • I still think we have most of the ingredients in this squad, despite that last depressing performance. Lacking brains puts it well. Need someone who can read and direct play and drive the team forwards. We get that to a degree with Hendo and Studge on the field together, but it would be great to get that type of leader during the window. Starting to think that kind of on-field leadership is needed more than an upgrade to any particular position. We’ve seen just how good this lot can be when they turn up to play together.

      • We need a few really good players. This squad is so low on quality it is incredible. Leadership and coaching cannot change average players into good ones. And we have too many average players due to 3+ years of transfer market incompetence.

        • Then how do you explain the 4-1 over City? The current squad has some merit but is horribly inconsistent. We have the basis but need a couple of proven quality players to lift the whole team performance on a regular basis. Let’s face it, we are not going to be doing massive business on the transfer market, but a couple of well chosen additions would be welcome.

        • we lost Suarez and couldn’t replace him with Sanchez . That was the turning point of this team’s downturn

    • I’m waiting for an apology off you. Mr Negative is Mr Intelligent, with the ability to predict a score before it happens and tell you who scores the goals. You owe me, you could have made a lot of money off my wisdom yesterday.

  11. Coutinho when playing with Sturridge or Suarez or any mobile striker plays like one of the best number 10s. When he plays with someone like Balo or lambert he seems as if he doesnt trust them and I honestly dont blame him. We need a mobile ST and I still think Klopp can turn Benteke into a mobile striker but for that to happen it would take time, alot of time.

  12. We see the same things happen game after game, and to my mind, either the players refuse to learn, or no on is teaching them anything… Which is it, because it’s now looking very much like the Brendan Rodgers days are back.

  13. Overrated and should be embarrassed by the disgraceful performance he put in today.

    Fortunately for Coutinho we have so many hopeless players that he can’t be dropped because the alternatives are even worse.

    • Of course, he is the only striker that understands his way pf playing. Also it must be frustrating to go from suarez and stu to balo and benteke.

  14. Like to see Lallana and Ibe play v Stoke with Benteke up top in a 433 with Lucas deep Can and Allen in front of him………we need a result, but the pressure to get one is on Hughes, so don’t play into his hands……..they are dangerous on the break, bottle them up…. Smith and / or Randall featuring in both cups. texiera in for exeter and rossiter, brannagan, etc……..time to change things up.

  15. Clearly out of form since the injury. What’s more depressing is the fact that we dont have anyone else playing better than an out of form player.

  16. Hello coutinho. Pls note that crossing form Parts of football.
    Pls also understand that not every strikers are the same.you should be able to adapt to them.you r not a superstar yet that they should adapt to you. Their role in the team is to score goals n yours to provide n in some cases you should be able to score yourself.
    Don’t make a fuss with too many overweight passes,touches,shooting infront of arrays of players, sometimes use your brain.
    Cool down n work hard, you will be a superstar one day. Ask yourself why you r not included in Brazil squad.

  17. Could this be a blessing in disguise for texeira. You won’t know what texeira is made of until he gets a good run n chance to play like coutinho. Coutinho is a 3-5 games wonder a season.that’s it. Klopp will soon discover that he can’t win the league around a player like him. 30 games goes missing a season.

  18. Coutinho is another waste of space player, part of the £300 million flops signed by our worst ever manager. Plays well for 1 game, goes missing for the next 6. Waste of space little wimp.

  19. Coutinho isn’t enjoying that left sided attacking role IMO. A big part of the problem is simply that that trio of AMFs simply do not work together too well in tandem, especially against oppositions with tight defenses. I have a feeling Phil is getting frustrated with his role on the left.

    That shoot on sight policy he’s been adopting this season is just one part of a deeper problem…seems like it’s more out of frustration of a lack of choices more than anything else really. We have to be one of the most dysfunctional attacking group in the PL. Not only do we play 3 #10s in the same match, we then decide to play Benteke ahead of them. Not to mention even Ibe’s game doesn’t fit in too well with the rest of the attacking players – no real meaningful partnerships.

    I happened to notice quality in individual bursts from the players in the West Ham game though. There were about 20-25 minutes in all, and mostly in the second half, when West Ham allowed us to have the possession and dropped off deep. This was when we were finally seeing some of the possession play coming into effect, but it clearly wasn’t enough.

  20. Coutinho is just being coutinho average with the odd great game ,hes not world class just a player that as the odd great game

  21. Funny huh? Suarez and Sterling were sold and we believed the lie that we bought players who add depth and can contribute from midfield.

    We’re left with a squad that is so unbalanced, we still have no commanding and strong DM, we still lack wingers (has been the problem since Rafa was here) AND we still don’t have a top class keeper since The Reina of the 08/09 season.

    Klopp has a really big challenge, I believe in him, and I’m sure that he’s starting to see who deserves to wear the red shirt and who doesn’t.

    Good luck Jurgen, you’re gonna need it, owh yeah and for this season, continue to excpect Watford, West Ham, Newcastle….. Kind of performances even more, he needs a summer transfer window and a full pre season, and ofcourse he’s new to the league so he might make some tactical mistake but he’ll figure it out, I’m pretty sure about that.

  22. He went from playing with gerrard, suarez, stu sterling to lallana, borini, lambert, balotelli, etc. He is clearly frustrated, a player that relys on the players movement and reading of his game.
    Also he is just 23 and clearly ,mentally ,he isnt the kind of player that can carry a team. Suarez said that playing for barcelona was easier because he didnt have all the responsabilty he had before.
    If klopss doesnt bring a few players that make the difference he will leave cause its hard to grow when u dont have players to learn from

    • Great players are born in this scenarios where all the best players have left. Coutinho sadly is not and probably there’s no chance he will ever be great.
      Frustratiion is just an excuse. A poor one

      • I dont agree. Take Messi for example, when he plays for Barca he is the best player in the world but for Argentina he is nowhere near his level. Why? No Neymar, Suarez, Iniesta, etc etc. Same for Ronaldo when playing for Portugal. There are a lot of examples. Neymar also stated that he has grown a lot with the kind of players he has around.
        I do think he will be among the best one day, just needs time and people that can get the best out of him

      • That’s not true mate. Right maybe it occur but IMO it’s an exception not a rule.
        Care to raise some players and the scenarios to enlighten me, please?

  23. If the shots had gone in, we’ll be talking a different story wouldn’t we? Cout don’t stop shooting because that’s a part of your game that only needs improving!!!

    • New years hangover? He had 5 blocked shot yesterday becoz he shoots from he halfway line so of couse there are hundreds of bodies in the way. He’s a pthethic shooter so he must stop shooting until he improves.

      Telling him to continue to shoot is outreageous

      • We all know coutinho isn’t the best shooter but in fairness he has hit some wonder goals from distance.
        I believe it’s just a matter of time before he’ll be hitting great stunner more consistently, it doesn’t matter if there are 100 bodies in front of him trying to block, so long as it goes in that’s what matters, isn’t it?
        This argument is baseless because I believe in cout’s abilities.

  24. Coutinho is a rich man’s Luis Garcia. Great in patches but frustratingly inconsistent. To pin him as Liverpool’s most important player is laughable. JK needs time and his own players to get his ideas across. I don’t think Coutinho will be starting in a Klopp side in 2 years time.

  25. Coutinho has been put on a pedestal by most fans. They think his world class and then get disappointed when he does not perform.

    Coutinho is the most overrated player in the PL and one of the most inconsistent. The teams form is not his fault per say but we can see clearly see he is not cutting it at the moment. A few long shots goals do not change the fact that most of his lfc career has been as a passenger with the odd demonstration of class.

  26. If our midfield struggles to score themselves from whatever “creativity” they supposed to be creating/distributing?? It is a no brainer then why our attacks fizzle out sooo easily and predictably.
    More goals from midfield has to be sorted. Lucas. Can. Ibe. Lallana. Milner. Henderson. How many goals is THAT, between y’all since season’s start? Since EVER!?

  27. Coutinho is a play-maker. Always has been, always will be. When he first arrived he was the most selfless player on the pitch and almost enjoyed getting assists more than goals.
    But over the last 18 months he has had too much pressure put on him. Suarez and Sturridge out of the side. His task was impossible, create chances for strikers who don’t read the game well enough, Balo, Benteke.

    I rate Couts very highly. Allot of his problems would be sorted instantly with a striker with good pace, tenacity and just read the game well.
    Fortunately we have that very player in Sturridge. Unfortunately, he is Daniel Sturridge so he cannot be relied upon anymore.
    Like 90% of you guys, I want to see a new striker brought in. But I don’t see Klopp doing it. He has faith in Origi, and I honestly think Ings will be a great player for us, he epitomises what Klopp is all about.

    I’ve written this season off, sadly. But we finally have the right manager in charge, FINALLY. So keep the faith guys and gals.

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