Coutinho, Collymore and ‘flat-track bully’ nonsense

Sarah Winterburn

Who bullies the bullies?
We need to talk about Stan Collymore and Philippe Coutinho. The Daily Mirror columnist who ‘always speaks his mind’ proclaims that Coutinho is not good enough for Chelsea and is only really at the level of ‘Everton, West Ham or possibly Wolves’. So teams in 12th, 16th and sixth to be totally clear.

‘But he is not going to help a team that is already there get better, because he is one of the most overrated attacking midfielders in the game.’

Well, he has never joined a team in fourth so we have no notion of his suitability to such a role. What we do know is that he was Liverpool’s top scorer in the season they actually finished fourth (2016/17), which seems like some kind of indication that he can perform at a high level for a team of that stature.

‘He’s a flat-track bully, the player who scores a couple of wonder goals in a 5-0 rout when most of the work has been done.’

‘Flat-track bully’ is an interesting phrase to use about a player who has literally scored more goals against Manchester City than any other opposition in his entire career.

And while he may have gained a reputation at Bayern for late flurries of pretty pointless goals, it’s worth noting that he scored Liverpool’s opening goal in three of his last four games at the club as they climbed into fourth place once again. Oh and he then scored Barcelona’s opening goal in four of the last five games of their La Liga-winning season of 2017/18.

The following season at Barcelona was not brilliant from Coutinho but he did score the opening goals of victories against Spurs, Sevilla (who were top of the table at the time) and Real Madrid in October, so ‘flat-track bully’ might not be quite the right phrase.

‘While Liverpool fans liked him for his ability to score a worldie or produce a moment of magic, many knew he was an icing-on-the-cake player.

‘I remember when talk first surfaced of him leaving Anfield, the figures being mooted were £50-£60million and I put a poll on Twitter asking fans if they would let him go for that.

‘The overwhelming majority of those who responded said they would — and plenty added the classic, ‘I’ll drive him to John Lennon Airport for that.’’

Because of course only Liverpool fans would vote in a poll for Liverpool fans on Twitter. And even then, we are not sure that 60% counts as an ‘overwhelming majority’. Certainly, there were few actual Liverpool fans wanting to back that sale at £65m.

And any Liverpool fans tempted at £65m on March 20 would not have been tempted two months later after Coutinho had scored seven goals in the next nine games to secure a Champions League place for the Reds.

Now nobody is arguing that Coutinho was a success at Barcelona or worth the massive fee they paid Liverpool, but claiming that the Brazilian is not at Chelsea’s level is just plain ridiculous. No Blues midfielder has matched Coutinho for league goals this season and this has been far from Coutinho’s best season.

As always, Collymore has a punchline:

‘He is not Eden Hazard.

‘He hasn’t got that little bit of spite needed to be a match winner in the big games and, as a result, he is not going to win Chelsea or anyone else the biggest pots and pans.’

Would that be the same Eden Hazard decried by ‘the man who always speaks his mind’ as lacking the kind of ambition that would make him a top footballer?

‘I get the feeling his dream move to Real Madrid might never happen,’ said Collymore. And we get the feeling that he doesn’t half talk bollocks.


We cannot quite leave Stan Collymore there because he is also upset that Arsenal are ‘reopening their training ground to use in groups of five’. Which is of course nonsense because – as John Cross explained earlier in the week – ‘players will be kept apart, do nothing as a group and, while they can follow the same session and instructions, they will not mix at all’.

Oh and lauding Jose Mourinho for packing grocery boxes rather than ‘locking himself away in his ivory tower’ looks a tad ridiculous when he has been given a bollocking by his club for training Tanguy Ndombele in a public park. Now that’s what we call an affront to social distancing guidelines, not players going into a training ground to train alone.

Oh and we know there is ridiculous money in modern football, but we strongly suspect that David Moyes does not live in an ‘ivory tower’. Unless they come semi-detached.


Forgotten man
The Sun
‘s resident West Ham fan Andrew Dillon brings us the back-page news that Declan Rice could be sold by West Ham, with Chelsea emerging as the favourites for his signature. But spot the slight problem with his summary of the midfield situation at Stamford Bridge:

‘N’Golo Kante, talented rookie Billy Gilmour and Jorginho are competing for two midfield spots at Chelsea.’

Mateo Kovacic – who has started more games in Chelsea’s midfield this season than Kante and Gilmour together – wants a word.


The Replacement
But maybe there is a collective Chelsea blindness at The Sun as Mark Irwin writes:

‘ARSENAL have been offered the chance to sign Chelsea winger Willian as a cut-price replacement for skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.’

What an ‘offer’. We barely think anybody will notice the difference when Arsenal replace 17-goal striker Aubameyang with five-goal winger Willian.


Grudge time
‘RIO FERDINAND has still not forgiven former England team-mate John Terry for racially abusing his brother Anton a decade ago’ – Daily Mirror.

‘Still’? Some people just won’t let things drop; all he did was call his brother a ‘f***ing black c***’.


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