Adrian interviewed Jonathan Higgins. Jonathon does a fan phone in show for RedMenTV and podcasts for AnfieldWools
Here’s what he had to say;
1. How do you think the Club dealt with the Coutinho saga? Like do you feel we should of tried harder to keep onto to him?
This is a difficult one, despite the very public Not for Sale message from the Club in the summer the only reason I believe he wasn’t sold then was because of the lack of time to get a replacement. Very similarly to the Van Dijk at Southampton saga the club believed they could integrate Coutinho into the team and perhaps thread water on the Barcelona distraction until the summer, even giving him the captains armband in big games. Despite this, Coutinho’s desire to leave intensified and by all accounts be was quite vocal about this in both his actions and words. It is reported Klopp and the club called him disloyal and most definitely the trust between player and manager was lost.
We all know Jurgen treats him his squad with a family based circle of trust and once that is broken there is no way back for any player no matter how good their qualities are. This factored in with the absolute desire to avoid a month’s long uncertainty and drama resulted in such a swift end to the saga.
From a personal point of view the suborn part of me would have liked to have cracked the whip and dragged our heels with him. With it been World Cup year, he wouldn’t have been able to down tools any longer and perhaps we could have set up a summer auction with the likes of PSG and Madrid especially if the player had a fruitful World Cup.
The logical part of my brain however has to fully trust and respect our managers decision. He is building something special at the moment and only him is best placed to make a proper judgement on the situation. You have to bear in mind is despite the hysteria at the time, his judgement in the similar treatment of Sahko in a relevantly similar situation (broken trust etc) was proven correct.
You only have to see his piece with the Daily Mail that his mind was fully made up and factored in with the fact Coutinho partly funded this move speaks volumes that reality is that selling him for a huge transfer fee was the only real option.
2. Do you think Coutinho will be a miss to our Top 4 hopes/Champions League Run?
Of course, we are going to miss a player of Coutinho’s quality. I’m not comparing him to Gerrard but he is a player of that niche that is capable of a game changing moment of magic, even when he might be on the peripheral edges of a game. His stats over the 5 years at the club prove that.
However, we are far more adept this season at covering his big loss with the signing of Salah and his whirlwind start to his Liverpool career than we would have been last season. You could argue Coutinho would be no long first choice in our front 3 and instead is a midfield option. It’s here we will miss his creative spark, particularly that option to drive the left halfspace and cut inside with a long range effort.
It’s up the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to continue his excellent form of late and Adam Lallana to get back to last season form asap to replace the massive void in midfield.
If we can keep our front 3 particularly Bobby and Salah fit and in good form, I still think we will have more than enough to cement our top 4 status and go on a long Champions League run.
3. Lemar and Mahrez are looking like likely replacements for Coutinho. But different reports are claiming deals are close and some claiming we haven’t even contacted the players agents. What are your views on this? Do you reckon one of them will sign in January?
It’s crazy season at the moment with almost hourly conflicting reports on a number of players. Lemar and Mahrez seem to be on everyone’s wishlists but getting either of them signed in January will be difficult and expensive.
Time will tell but I hope we get at least one of them over the line.
4. The Reds are currently sitting in fourth place in the table, into the next round of the FA Cup, and into the last 16 of the Champions League. How would you sum our season up so far?
After a couple of wobbles along the way I really believe the foundations are in place to push on in the second half of the season. We have successfully juggled the added European fixtures and have rotated the squad wisely. There is a long way to go but I have been pleased with the manner of our recent victories and this team is definitely evolving. It’s been decent start and I fully believe there is a hell of a lot more to come from this team even without Coutinho.
5. How would you sum up Van Dijk’s debut performance against Everton?
Without getting over exaggerated it was almost the perfect debut. Obviously, the late winner in front of the Kop was the fairy tale ending, but it was the other side of his performance that almost pleased me most. I don’t think I have seen a more commanding aerial dominant display from a Liverpool centre half since big Sami in his prime. The constant barking of orders right from the off at this teammate was a refreshing sight as was the huge smile on his face at the end of the game.
6. Now Van Dijk has come into the team, do you think our problems at the back are now solved?
Van Dijk will obviously make a huge improvement to our well documented problems both in terms of his own qualities and his leadership qualities. However it is too much wishful thinking to say our problems are solved. I still think we need a new number 6 and goalkeeper.
7. Lastly what are your thoughts on Emre Can agreeing a Pre-contract with Juventus? How do you rate him at Liverpool?
Emre is a difficult player to rate at the best of times. He is capable of the good, the bad and the very ugly in a matter of minutes. At times, particularly at the end of the Leicester and Burnley games he looked like a superstar marching up the pitch with the ball, making game changing moments. Unfortunately, consistency is the biggest issue I have with him. I’m all for players have believe and confidence in their ability but he needs to back it up with performances on the pitch. Too many times he is slow and laboured on the ball and I practically disliked the way he let Sigurdsson run free for the Everton equaliser on Friday night.
That been said there is definitely a player in there no doubt, I would be disappointed if he leaves for free in the summer especially after turning down a very decent contract offer. From what I’ve heard the club are still hoping of changing his mind but time will tell. Most important thing for now is that does his talking on the pitch. We are limited for options in the number 6 role particularly with Henderson’s injury.
I would like to Thank Jonathan for taking his time to answer all these questions and the Anfield Press team will appreciate this very much. Also I hope you have enjoyed reading this. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @Jhiggins3 and Adrian @AdrianCocking_