I’M not quite ready to stop the scepticism. But there’s no doubt Philippe Coutinho is enjoying an impressive start to his Liverpool career.
I’M not quite ready to stop the scepticism. But there’s no doubt Philippe Coutinho is enjoying an impressive start to his Liverpool FC career.
His pass for Jordan Henderson’s equaliser at Villa Park was just the latest impact he has made on a game since arriving from Inter Milan in January.
I’m still a little wary, though. Leading Italian clubs don’t let their best players leave for a relatively small amount, so why would they let him go?
But you can only judge Coutinho from what he does on the pitch. And it’s so far, so very good from the Brazilian.
Nevertheless, it’s another classic example of everybody wanting to judge a player within five minutes of him pulling on a Liverpool shirt for the first time.
It’s only after a couple of seasons that we can really assess whether a player will be a big success.
Defenders are still learning about Coutinho, and I’m sure they will be better prepared to deal with him next season.
It is rare for a team to come from behind to win in the Premier League, so Liverpool showed good character to fight back against Aston Villa last weekend.
But the reality is Villa are a very below par side. They make far too many defensive mistakes to be anything but. I know they have young defenders, but how many of them are actually teenagers?
They aren’t that young, but they are inexperienced players playing in a relatively inexperienced team.
I said at the start of the season that Liverpool would finish fifth or sixth and that’s where they are most likely going to end up, partly because they haven’t quite acquired the knack yet of winning games when they haven’t played particularly well.
Brendan Rodgers knows that. You can’t have performances like against Villa at home, West Brom at home and Southampton away and seriously expect to be challenging for the top four.
Every team loses games, but the manner in which they lose is the most indicative factor.
Lucas Leiva struggled a little at Villa, and for me he is levelling out a bit. That was always going to happen after being out for so long.
When you first return, you get by on adrenalin, it all looks easy and then you hit the wall.
Lucas is suffering from not having a full pre-season. I don’t care who you are, but you can’t not have a pre-season and not have problems.
Lucas may have trained all through summer, but he went missing so early into the season that it is hard to catch up, particularly at this stage of the campaign. Liverpool will see the best of him again next season.