Coutinho’s Brazilian panache drives red revival at expectant Anfield
Liverpool’s €10m purchase represents smart business
“I’ve not had the chance to play United yet. But from what I have been told about the history between the clubs, it’s even more passionate and stronger than the Milan derby.
“Football is more disputed in England than it is in Italy. Every match is a very hard match because the referee doesn’t blow his whistle as much as in Italy and every team plays against each other like it is a final. I enjoy it more in England because you have to think quicker. The pace of the game is faster so you don’t have much time to think.”
Fulcrum of attack
The Liverpool manager handed Coutinho the responsibility of the No 10 shirt when he arrived in January and sees his future as the pivotal point of the team’s attack, hence the desire to sign a left winger before Monday’s transfer deadline. The one reservation over Coutinho so far has been the ability to impose himself against the stronger teams of the Premier League, with anonymous displays against Chelsea and Tottenham last season ending in substitution.
He accepts the criticism.
“I know that last season against Chelsea I did not do as well as I should but that’s all in the past now,” he says. “It’s a new season and I think it will be different for me this time. That Chelsea game was very intense, all the players were close to each other and I found it hard to get into the rhythm of the game. Now I have had the experience, I know what to do to be prepared for matches like this and play better. That’s what I aim to do.”
The signings of Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge helped elevate Liverpool’s form from January onwards last season, with the pair establishing an instant rapport that has demonstrated the Brazilian’s ingenuity with a pass and the striker’s accuracy with the finish. Despite a few problems with the language barrier, it is a relationship that also flourishes off the pitch.
“Daniel is an excellent player and always makes his runs at the right time,” says Coutinho.
“I think he’s similar to a Brazilian player because he is so quick with the ball at his feet. He has the qualities to be a Brazilian player . . . He is always looking to teach me things to help us combine better on the pitch, but in English. Last week he did it against Aston Villa. Once Luis is back – and I think he is at the same level as Neymar – he and Daniel will help us a lot.”