Why Philippe Coutinho could be the man to solve Man Utd’s creative problems
Philippe Coutinho could be the unlikely man to remedy Manchester United’s creative woes.
United have made their worst start to a league season in 30 years, sitting 12th in the table.
Although injuries have hampered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection, there is a complete lack of creativity in the side.
According to Opta, United have created nine ‘big chances’ in their eight fixtures so far – the joint-third worst tally in the league.
United’s squad is one built for the counter-attack and other teams know it, leading to opponents sitting back to see what United can do with the ball.
Judging by the display against Newcastle on Sunday, United have no answer.
The side does not wield a creative player cut from the same cloth as Roberto Firmino, Kevin de Bruyne, Christian Eriksen or Mason Mount, among others.
An awareness to this fact was shown when United engaged in talks with Paulo Dybala over the summer transfer window but called off the deal due to worries over the player’s wage demands and drive to play for the club.
But while the Argentine satisfies the profile of player United need, another South American truly fits the bill.
Coutinho’s future was a point of contention all summer until he joined Bayern Munich on a season-long loan deal (with an option to buy) in August.
After leaving Liverpool for Barcelona in January 2018, the samba star failed to impress at Camp Nou, where he was commonly deployed out of position on the left wing.
But in just eight performances for the Bavarians, Coutinho has showed his perennial class.
From attacking midfield, he has produced two goals and three assists for Bayern, wowing the Allianz Arena with his silky play.
In contrast, the main contenders for a No 10 spot in United’s team are Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira who, between them, have no goals and two assists this term.
It is not often a player of Coutinho’s class is transfer listed and perhaps United have missed their chance, with Bayern wielding a £109million option-to-buy clause.
But as much as United need the Brazilian, he did seem hesitant to join the Manchester club due to his ties with Liverpool.
Coutinho’s agent Kia Joorabchian said in July: “Manchester United is a great club, I have players there and I have all the respect for them, but as far as Philippe goes it would be an extremely difficult to a near-impossible move.
“I would be very difficult for Philippe to play for any of Liverpool’s rivals, because he has such a great affinity towards Liverpool. His time there was fantastic.”
Coutinho may not quite be the one who got away, but his performances for Bayern and Brazil should act as a gentle reminder to United officials to act fast on targets, as the debacle at Old Trafford continues.