Life after Luis Suarez doesn’t look anywhere near as bleak as some were making out after Liverpool's fantastic 4-0 friendly win over Borussia Dortmund. There will never be another Suarez, but Brendan Rodgers has found enough exciting players to fill the gap and compensate, and in Coutinho they have a player of rare quality.
People were worried about how Liverpool would cope with the loss of such a brilliant player but it’s been proven that the good times are set to continue. Against Dortmund they were just relentless. It was just like watching last season's performances all over again, and Suarez was nowhere to be seen.
There will be more difficult tests to come and they will go through difficult spells, but you can’t deny that Liverpool have a squad brimming full of talent and outstanding players.
It was quite a statement from Liverpool and very much a case of picking up the baton from where they left off. They were playing in the same sort of style, working hard to win the ball back, with plenty of movement when they had the ball. There was individual brilliance when they did have possession and bits of magic to change the game.
The star of the show, though, was Coutinho.
I’ve always felt that the more central you can get him, the better he will be. He has a superb range of passing and an ability to spot space. He is on the of those passers who always sees the gap and with the quality of runners around him, and the pace, he is a very dangerous weapon indeed.
He opens up the pitch for players of the quality of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling and that is what makes Liverpool so dangerous. The loss of Suarez hasn’t impacted on that dimension of their game. It is almost impossible to stop.
Coutinho is good enough to play in any of the forward four positions and I think he will have spells when he is playing more on the left, but it all depends on the quality of the opposition. Against the tougher teams, Brendan might feel he is better used in a wide role.
He has been outstanding at times during the 18 months he has been at Liverpool and judging by what we have seen in the last few weeks of pre-season, maybe this is the time when he puts together a whole season and scores a few more goals. As a No. 10 with a free role he needs to score more goals, but he is up and running at the moment.
The £25m capture of Adam Lallana was seen as a direct threat to Coutinho given they are similar players who occupy similar areas of the pitch but the competition has brought the best out of the Brazilian. In fact it could have the same impact across the squad.
Last season, Liverpool’s first XI was fairly well established but this year there is healthy competition all over the place. Players like Coutinho will be looking over their shoulders and so far he has responded in a very impressive manner.
His assist for Daniel Sturridge’s goal was absolutely ludicrous. There’s some things you can teach footballers, but that was not one of them. You either have it or you don’t. And he has it.
It’s all about his understanding of space and movement – spotting Sturridge’s run – and then it’s about his technical ability and the audacity to pull it off, whether that be with a backheel or a flick.
He isn’t a replacement for Suarez – and Liverpool won’t score 100+ goals again this season – but maybe they have a new attacking talisman, and meanwhile the style and the pace and the movement remain the same. They might just put a few less goals in, but they will remain exciting to watch.
- Jan Molby
- Sports & Recreation
- Luis Suarez
- Borussia Dortmund
- Daniel Sturridge
- Brendan Rodgers