When Liverpool delivered a string of great results to start life under new manager Jürgen Klopp, there had been some hope that it wasn’t just the so-called new manager bump. That the new man really had instantly found the secret to unlocking the potential in a talented if unbalanced and underperforming side.
Results in the months since haven’t quite measured up to the heady first weeks, but there are signs a foundation is being laid; a plan put into place. Now the question becomes one of how long it takes. Of how many changes Klopp will need to make in the transfer market and what the realistic goals for next season should be.
"It feels like we’re moving in the right direction," Philippe Coutinho told World Soccer magazine. "Our team is playing a high-pressing game and I’m enjoying it. With this style there is more freedom when we have the ball. The manager is asking us to play our game more naturally and it is allowing us to express ourselves."
The results of haven’t always been there, but when the club’s key players have been fit—including Coutinho, who has missed a number of games over the past two months—there has been cause for optimism. And given Coutinho has always enjoyed playing a feisty game, that he’s enjoying it perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Under Brendan Rodgers, Coutinho was at his best against big clubs. Against the likes of Everton and Arsenal when he was asked to play a more combative game and began to react on instinct both on and off the ball rather than taking too much time to consider his options. The hope will be for Klopp to get him doing that consistently.
"He created a highly successful side at Dortmund and it’s great for Liverpool to have him," added Coutinho. "In training, we’re working hard and enjoying his methods, which are helping to make us better players. Little by little it’s translating to matches and I think everyone has seen how effective his philosophy can be."