Coutinho: We Have Big Objectives

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In the early hours of Monday morning, with the latent antipathy towards Manchester United still pulsing in the back of our poor battered heads, Latest News used the platform provided by AI Towers to witter inanely about the Sky Sports narrative that Liverpool’s performance had ruined. There were so many glaring examples of a bias in the presentation of that narrative that your scribbler could not possibly have mentioned them all in what is supposed to be a quick read for you lovely patrons of this column.

Even after the event, in the post-match interview, the first proactive attempts at rewriting history had begun. Touchline flunky, Geoff Shreeves, is a well established United fancier. In the era of Alex Ferguson, Shreeves’ toadying was so pronounced that the former Dark Lord of Mancunia would end each interaction with a deliciously condescending, “well done, Geoff.”

On Sunday, the Sky man was thwarted in his attempts to reconfigure the immediate past. Jürgen Klopp, having just told Shreeves that Liverpool had “deserved three points,” was as disinclined as Latest News to allow any reimagining of events. Witness the following exchange:

Shreeves: When Manchester United were really coming on strong in the second half, how…

Klopp: [cutting across him pointedly] With the long balls…

Shreeves: …how much did bringing on Philippe Coutinho give you, calming things down for you?

One does not simply put one over on Jürgen Klopp. To be fair to Shreeves, the influence of Coutinho was immediate, with the Brazilian’s first touch an outrageous reverse pass that should have resulted in a goal. Regular Redmen watchers will be beside themselves with glee at the prospect of the attacker’s return. Liverpool’s number ten has gone from a lavishly talented occasional performer to the consistent influence over 90 minutes most of us hoped he would become.

The player himself is well-schooled in the finer nuances of Footballer Speak and you won’t find him making any daft predictions, but there is a hopefulness and an optimism in his assessment of the team’s efforts to date and their potential for the season. Like everyone else, Coutinho is quick to identify the manager’s influence in the rising tide that appears to be lifting all Liverpool boats.

“We have to keep working together because the season is very long,” he offered reasonably. “We have big objectives to realise this season. The confidence [of a good result] brings good feeling, tells us that we have to keep working hard. This season promises to be very important for us and Liverpool have to keep playing well. He is a great manager, he has changed the mentality in our team we have become much stronger in defence, and we’ll keep working together.”

Increasingly, and despite a naturally wary perspective, this scribbler is starting to change from doubter to believer. It was never a lack of hope, you understand. Deeply ingrained hope, despite all evidence to the contrary, has always been part of supporting Liverpool for many of us. It’s just that with Klopp prowling the training ground and the touchline and with players like Coutinho operating between the white lines, that hope feels like it’s based on something tangible, something undeniable. We have big objectives to realise.

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