Roberto Firmino has explained how Jurgen Klopp changed Liverpool’s tactical set-up after the exit of Coutinho.
The Brazilian left in January to join Barcelona for £142m, after he essentially downed tools.
There was naturally a worry that Liverpool’s promising season would derail as a result, especially as we decided against signing a replacement, but remarkably – the team has almost improved without Coutinho.
The likes of Mo Salah and Firmino himself have stepped up, with Sadio Mane often playing from deeper – creating in the manner Coutinho was charged with before Christmas.
“We changed the way we played after his exit. Which team in the world would not like to have a player of the quality of Coutinho?” Firmino told Goal.
“But he continued his life at Barcelona and Liverpool remained strong, as we always were.
“I just worry about playing well and helping Liverpool go as far as possible in the Premier League.
“If that is achieved by me scoring goals, even better. Thank God, the goals are coming! Winning the title is difficult this season, so we will fight to secure a Champions League place again. That’s one of the goals.”
It’s a testament to Klopp’s tactical genius that we’ve managed so brilliantly without Coutinho, who was arguably our best player during the first half of the season.
From the outside, it seemed that our midfield would lack creativity – but we’ve actually scored goals at a better rate since we cashed in.
Saturday’s 5-0 thumping of Watford provides an example. Without Coutinho, our attacks are less predictable and we use onrushing fullbacks more than trying to thread central through-balls.
The Brazilian was capable of magic, but when he was having an off day, we looked blunt.
Now, Firmino’s close relationship with Salah is our spark, but the rest of the side selflessly supports its two stars.