Brendan Rodgers defended Liverpool‘s Coutinho and said that he expected him to improve as the season progresses.
Brazilian Philippe Coutinho has come under a lot of scrutiny for not performing for Liverpool so far this season. The 22 year old enjoyed a terrific pre-season but has not done well since the league began. He has been played out of his favored No.10 position, but his performances have been far from convincing.
“He’s a brilliant young player, a fantastic young player,” Rodgers told his pre-West Ham press conference at Melwood.
“I had planned to have him out of the game against Aston Villa because he’d had a lot of travelling in the international week – and if we didn’t have so many injuries, he would have been given a rest on the side and then playing in the Champions League game.
“We couldn’t afford to do that. We had to play him, but it was great for him and his experience getting back into the Brazilian squad.
“I’ve got no qualms about him; he’s a big, big talent. He has lit up the Premier League since he came to the club. He’s going to have some games where he won’t be at his best, but he always gives his best and that’s all I ever ask of the players.
“The kid is a great boy who wants to do well. He’s very conscious that I have absolutely no doubts about him.”
“He’s been here 18 months and has been absolutely brilliant. I don’t think it’s a question now if he can cope [with the demands of the Premier League].
The Liverpool boss went on to admit that the player hasn’t been in the best of form but reiterated that Liverpool want to be more of a team this season than rely solely on one player
“You only need to measure him since he’s been in and look at the big games where he’s been absolutely brilliant. He’s like any normal player – you’ll sometimes be 6/10, you won’t always be 9 or 10/10,” he said
“Whilst he isn’t at his best, the reliance isn’t solely on him. If we are to succeed, it’ll be about the whole team playing well. If he’s not, there will be other players, he can have a rest and then he’ll go again. There’s no doubting whether he has the pace, power or strength because he’s already shown in so many games he has all of those qualities.”