What's happened to him? His game has changed.
This has been a subject that's been bothering me for a year now.
If I remember correctly Coutinho (as well as others) played a pivotal part in our charge for the title in 2013/14. It's all well and good having a world class striker in Suarez and a top finisher in Sturridge, but they need supply. Coutinho back in those days was more focused on supplying our deadly strikers, he in particular seemed to have formed a relationship with Sturridge. He'd always seem to find him with an acute pass. He was more focused on key passes, rather than goals.
These were the days of a Coutinho "The Key Master". Coutinho "The Playmaker". Coutinho "The Wizard". Now he's just Coutinho "I'll have a go from 40 yards and because I hit so many, one's gonna go in eventually" if there's space. There must be a stat out there of who takes the most long shots, he must be first on that list. I don't know that official count but he must have had at least 7 long shots at Turf Moor the other day.
Now this isn't his doing, I firmly believe that the departure of Suarez and injury ridden Sturridge has forced him to change his game. We used to possess forwards who would make clever, darting runs. Suarez was so so clever, never not on the move. When Sturridge was playing up front, he played most of the time on the shoulder of the defender. Now he's acting as our deep lying playmaker?
This change of game from Coutinho of course hasn't been help by the arrival of target men at this club, Balotelli, Lambert & Benteke. I actually rate Benteke as a striker, but he was never ever a fit for this club. As a club, we're not about long ball and crosses. It's always been pass and move. In the right environment, Benteke will flourish but in an environment like ours a target man's predominant weakness is shown. Appalling movement. No movement, no pass.
We need to get Coutinho back to his playmaking best, because I just don't see him as playmaker anymore. But it may be too late, Coutinho may be set in the mindset that he's LFC's best player so he needs to make things happen by himself by scoring goals, but the shots that he takes are low percentage shots and sometimes there's a pass on which he ignores because of this state of mind.
People bang on about Coutinho moving to a bigger club, but he'll never move to a bigger club if he doesn't get back to the Coutinho that shocked us when he arrived in January and turned our season around with Sturridge by putting life into a stagnate Liverpool attack.
It's a shame because I doubt we'll ever see this Coutinho again, simply by the way we now play. He's out there, on the left hand side of Sturridge who either injured or deeper that Coutinho himself. Even if Origi was on the pitch, a player who's capable of playing on the shoulder, I feel like Coutinho would ignore chances to play a key pass. Firmino simply isn't the type to make runs in behind.
I dunno, I just feel like we have inadvertently forced Coutinho into this long shot monster and it's not the way forward in my opinion. I would like him to get back to focusing on key passes, and not have a go every time there's space in front of him. But of course, I (we) don't know if he's being asked to play in this fashion.
Who knows, but I would prefer this Coutinho back.