It took the Watford FC crew all of three and a half minutes to stop Philippe Coutinho at Vicarage Road on Monday evening. And they had to debilitate the Brazilian mastermind to do it. Running onto a bouncing ball at the edge of the Watford box, the little magician was taken out of the game with a decisive thump to the thigh delivered sloppily by the home team’s Adrian Mariappa. We were shocked that something serious could happen to Coutinho when Liverpool so clearly need him for the final stretch. And yet Everthing’s The Worst™ had prepared us well.
His hand moved quickly to the tender impact site of smashed leg stuff. We knew it was going to be a worrying few minutes. Coutinho down on the deck. Physios out. Instant replay, do your worst.
The collision didn’t look like something you would pop right back from, but Coutinho tried all the same. He was up but clearly busy trying not to be hurt “for real,” entranced with willing himself fit to continue.
A moment of hope flashed across our collective consciousness. Look, he’s up, we beamed to nobody. The worry, it was all for nothing, we said. So nearly on the precipice of relief. And then the hobbling began.
We could not hide our earnest faces, then. That’s a deep hobble, we noticed. Effortful, we heard someone say, as Coutinho struggled to the sidelines for serious sideline analysis.
After a time of professional examination and chit chat, Phil was cleared by Liverpool’s finest to return to the pitch. The hobbling would not abate immediately. It wouldn’t abate after a couple of minutes either. In fact, there wasn’t much action on the abating front at all. The thigh was busted and on the bench Adam Lallana began the arduous wardrobe change of a surprised substitute.
Coutinho’s day was done.
Diagnosis: dead leg. Which sounds really bad, but is actually good in this case. Because the leg was just dead. Not any worse than dead. You get it. It’s a positive thing we’re talking about.
News came down quickly that Phil’s injury was nothing serious. It was all over Instagram and Twitter and the other ones, probably. The unicorn had indeed willed himself clear of damage. Coutinho was expected to be fully recovered for the visit of Southampton to Anfield on Sunday.
Two days later and reports from head office are that Phil is still in good condition. He was left out of team training on Wednesday but the little Brazilian is said to be on track to face the Saints. We should expect to see the magic man grace those Melwood training photos either Thursday or Friday.
And another moment of hope just flashed me.