Everyone knew that when Steven Gerrard left the club someone would be needed to fill the leadership role he vacated. Jordan Henderson became the team's new captain, but no one believed that one single man could be all the things that Gerrard was to the club. Instead, as a team moving forward, the players would need to step up and collectively take ownership of that responsibility.
One of the senior players who has taken on a larger role in Gerrard's absence is Philippe Coutinho. And it's not just Gerrard's move away, but also Suarez leaving, as well as injuries to Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, that mean that Coutinho's brilliance has become even more integral to the team.
Speaking about this, Coutinho said in an interview,
"I think it’s more a case that everyone’s level of responsibility has gone up.
"A real leader has left, one of the club’s greatest players and an idol for all of us.
"I think everyone felt his absence a bit at the start, but Liverpool is now moving forward without Gerrard and we’re all pulling together in his absence.
"[But] in truth I don’t feel any extra pressure. Every time I step onto the pitch, I just want to do my best, to enjoy myself and to entertain Liverpool’s fans.
"I don’t think about the pressure, I just want to play football and help the team."
Coutinho has served out his one match ban for a red card received in the 3-0 drubbing against West Ham, and will surely start on Sunday when Liverpool hosts Norwich City at Anfield. The Reds will be glad to have him back, as his trickery and skill were greatly missed against their rivals, Manchester United, last weekend.
About the red card, Coutinho said, "It’s always hard for any player to miss out on a match. I watched the match, but it’s hard not to be there and be able to help the team. And particularly as it was a huge match like that, it was even worse. We’re getting on with the job in hand. We have to remain strong. It was a tough defeat, but it’s still early days in the league and there’s still a long way to go. We need to remain strong and look to improve in the games ahead of us."
Indeed, it must have been brutal for a competitive player like Coutinho to be forced to sit out a match of that importance, especially since it was down to his own rash behavior in the West Ham match that put him in the situation in the first place. He's still only 23 years old, but the second yellow card he received that resulted in the ban was unnecessary, and indicative of a player who let his frustration get the better of him at an crucial moment.
Regardless, Liverpool will need more Coutinho's magic if they hope to rescue a season that is already being threatened by poor results and a lack of confidence.