Thursday, 28 February 2013

Philippe Coutinho- The next big thing?

Philippe Coutinho was brought in to Liverpool near the end of the January Transfer window, bought from Inter Milan for £8.5million. He is only 20 years of age has shown great potential in his first few games for the club. Could he play a vital part in getting us back to the Champions League soon?

One of the key things that has struck me about Coutinho since he joined Liverpool in his confidence. He hasn’t been scared to take players on 1 on 1, and has tried some audacious skills (most notably an attempted Rabona shot which went just wide). This is a good sign, as it shows he has self-confidence, and is not afraid to try things. This should allow him to reach his full potential. Take Luis Suarez as an example. A lot of the things he tries don’t come off, but they are definitely worth it for the things that do! An attacking player who is afraid of being audacious is, in general, not worth having.

Another great thing is his age. From what I have seen, it appears Coutinho bridges the gap between getting talent here and now but also investing in potential. At only 20 years of age, Coutinho certainly has the capacity to improve as a player. He will also be able to adapt to the teams style of play, which will of course be an improvement. However, he is currently a very good player. Bringing him has made a noticeable positive impact on the team, which is a very good thing. Basically, it seems we may have managed to sign a very good player who’s going to get better!

As well as this, he provides another option for Brendan Rodgers. Coutinho is an attacking midfielder, which opens up a lot of possibilities for Rodgers in terms of formations he can use. Before Coutinho’s signing, the midfield was nearly always Lucas and Gerrard central, with Downing and Henderson out wide. Now, Rodgers can choose to play with 3 central midfielders, or 1 central attacking and 2 wide. In essence, it provides a lot of variation, which will make us hard to predict and therefore hard to beat. Coutinho also allows Rodgers some back-up in case of injury or suspension, and the option to rotate the squad.

In conclusion, Coutinho is a very talented player who has a lot of potential. He is not afraid to try his luck with audacious skills, and he provides Rodgers with lots of new options. For just £8.5 million, I think he is a great buy, and if all turns out well he may become an integral part of the team within a few years.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Martin Kelly- Can he Solve LFC’s defensive problems?

Martin Kelly recently signed a new contract with Liverpool, a deal that was roundly welcomed by fans given the form he's displayed over the past few seasons. His performances at right back have shown potential, and it is clear he has enough skill to be in the first team now, rather than just being ‘one for the future’. He’s certainly not been perfect, but largely he's been solid, meaning many have marked him down as a potential regular Liverpool full-back for years to come. Now, with a longer-term deal in place, it seems Kelly may be able to try and fully establish himself into the full-back role.

The signing of a new contract by Kelly is good news, as he's clearly talented and, based on previous observations and on comments from Brendan Rodgers, there's a chance he could feature regularly at fullback or in central defence. Those are both areas that are in need of strengthening anyway, but signing him on for the future allows Rodgers to have a player that can play in almost any defensive role in the event of the club being hit by some sort of defensive injury crisis.

This brings me smoothly on to one of the main problems with Martin Kelly. After a stop-start beginning to his football career (because of back problems), he worked his way through the ranks at Liverpool and, after a loan spell at Huddersfield, made his first start for LFC in the 2009-2010 season. A groin injury kept him out shortly after, however, and in each of the next two seasons he spent significant chunks of time on the treatment table as well, both times with hamstring injuries. This year was arguably the worst of the lot, with a torn anterior cruciate ligament at Manchester United ruling him out for a long time (although it is rumoured he may return as early as next month).

That's a concerning string of injuries, but speaking the day after signing his new contract, he's confident that his return will mark the start of a long time injury-free.

"Today shows the faith that the club have in me and that the hard work I have put in since I was young has paid off. Hopefully I'll put the injuries behind me. We have excellent medical staff here, who are going to work with me and keep me on top of my injury. I'll be coming back even stronger."

If the signing's going to prove to be a good bit of business, he'll have to. The club have struggled for a number of years to have reliable depth at the back, and an investment made in his future has to bring with it the expectancy that he'll actually be able to play on a regular basis. His wages aren’t ridiculously high, but the commitment from the club is still a big one, and its money down the drain if he cannot play regular football for us.

In conclusion, Martin Kelly may well be able to help strengthen up Liverpool’s back four, and the fact that he has signed a new contract is very good for us. However, if he isn’t able to overcome his persistent injury troubles, he will be another name forgotten by history, and a lot of valuable money that could have been spent elsewhere wasted.