As Brendan Rodgers' tenure as Liverpool manager limped towards its end, Philippe Coutinho's form dropped. And then it dropped some more. And even the arrival of Jürgen Klopp, energizing as it was for the likes of Lucas Leiva and Emre Can and Mamadou Sakho, couldn't seem to turn things around.
Class, though, as the cliche goes, is permanent. Against Chelsea on Saturday, the little Brazilian showed just how good he can be, snapping out of his slump with a two-goal performance. According to his manager, it was always coming—always on the cards—and just a matter of giving him the time to play through his struggles.
"Did you see the last three games?" said Klopp when asked about Coutinho's man of the match performance. "Phil is a brilliant player so we don't have to talk about his qualities. I'm not interested in what happened before. I have spoken to him, of course, but my job is to help him, not to say what he is not doing good.
"He knows the last three games were not perfect but he needs to play to feel what is good and what is wrong. Sometimes you have to work really hard to make football look easy. That is what Phil did. It was not a perfect start for him, but he came back and he was cool enough in the right moment to shoot. That is his quality."
The same could be said for the entire team, who bounced back despite conceding in the opening minutes. In the past, they likely would have slumped following Chelsea's early goal. The renewed confidence and self-belief that Klopp has instilled in the players in only a few short weeks, though, shone through in the end.
Liverpool dominated possession and kept Chelsea to the periphery when they didn't have the ball. They played football—better football than their opponents—despite being down away from home. And in the end, they were rewarded for that. In the end, despite a terrible run of recent form, Philippe Coutinho in particular was.
"I love this player," added the manager. "Who doesn't love Phil Coutinho? I don't expect all day perfection. I expect you to work and to try to get better every day. That is what Phil is doing and what the team is doing. That is how we take the next step."