Liverpool Should Cash In On Coutinho…If Price Is Right

So what did we learn after the final whistle blew at the Etihad yesterday?

A breathless affair that summed up the very best in terms of intent, pace and sheer tempo of a game between two teams that will and have entertained us royally this season but still show so much naivety and genuine lack of defensive nous that for both managers in the summer…

it will be major surgery not minor tweaks that will see them do better next time around.

Lets start with Manchester City.

In attack Sergio Aguero proved yet again that the borderline stupidity of Pep Guardiola to even think about edging him slowly out of the side is breathtaking arrogance. Yes of course Gabriel Jesus is the future but at school you learn from those who know more, are more experienced and who are still more than capable of regular greatness and I’ve only seen a wonderful striker react with class and goals since Jesus sprung onto the scene, and I do ask myself one question. If Jesus were fit, would Aguero have been in the team the last month? Maybe not.

Raheem Sterling needs to watch David Silva closer in training because his awareness in the final third is poor for a player with undoubted talent, pace and ability to open up defences. At times his runs are runs for running sake rather than taking up positions that can be a danger to the opposition. Many will point to his assists this season, second best in the league, but he should be aiming for top of the charts, making the impact in big games, and if proof of what I’m saying is needed then look at England performances where he’s playing with arguably less talented players. He has barely made a dent so far and for a player with a top price tag you expect him to be the difference. Pace alone in the next two years won’t be enough, particularly in the Champions League and World Cup.

I’ve been critical of John Stones and rightly so. So much learning of his craft to do it’s frightening but, against a Liverpool side that pushed him back towards his goal more than most teams will, he seemed to use an undoubted football brain to react quickly to situations rather than when City dominate possession, switches off and gets himself on and off the ball into all sorts of trouble. Proof a great defender is in there but needs to learn how to defend when his team have the ball too.

Now for Liverpool.

Still not convinced about any of the back four to take the step up to keep enough clean sheets to make a concerted title challenge next season. Matip is decent but not a commanding presence yet, Milner will always be a great team player but if we accept Moreno is surplus to requirements and Joe Gomez is a work in progress…

the Anfield cheque book must come out for a good left back.

Emre Can for me, with my player hat on, needs a cuddle, needs telling constantly how good he is, and perhaps then we will see the best of him in a Liverpool shirt. Great physique, shown in the combat area against City proves to me that if Liverpool had a top quality defensive minded midfielder (Hendo isn’t so lets not pretend he is), Can could offer so much as a dominant midfield central force, but will he get the time and cuddle from Jurgen?

Coutinho is a great six games a season player, when we all salute his little genius, goals and creativity and I know he’s been injured but I’m just not sure Liverpool will ever be able to hang their hat on him to guarantee big performances week in week out. The fact Lallana and Mane have kicked on under Klopp so much more than the little Brazilian tells my intuition that if one of the Iberian giants were to tickle the Reds fancy, even having signed a bumper contract…

I personally would sell him if the price were right

…and get a more dominating physical presence, like Mane in that attacking three. Controversial I know but Phil just isn’t that consistent!

Top Three
I’ve a feeling the top three as stands are locked in now, too much attacking ability (watch this space regarding Harry Kane’s absence though, Spurs wilted after two weeks or more last time without him) meaning we have the mother of all battles potentially between Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Everton.

Right now I’d still call United because of their ability to keep clean sheets, which as we know in the final stretch is the most important thing when games get tight and nervous. But what a helluva race in prospect. One thing is for sure, looks like one of Arsene, Jose, Klopp or Pep may miss out, showing whatever your CV, this league will test you to the hilt, and I love it!!