Brendan Rodgers hails “incredible, sensational” Coutinho for shift as Liverpool’s false-9

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Brendan Rodgers has hailed Phillipe Coutinho as an “incredilbe” performer in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on Monday, after the 22-year-old Brazilian was deployed as a false-nine against the Magpies.

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Coutinho, who typically operates as a wide playmaker, was asked to play the withdrawn center forward’s role against Newcastle with injuries keeping Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli out of Rodgers’ matchday squad. Speaking in his post-game television interview (above video), Rodgers proclaimed Coutinho as being “up there with the very, very best in the most competitive league in the world.”

“I thought he was incredible tonight. I think he show that he’s really up there with the very, very best in the most competitive league in the world, which is the Barclays Premier League. I played him in that sort of role, just in front of the center halves thinking maybe we could exploit the space in between their midfield and the center halves.

We wanted to come out and create space for the players to make runs in behind. I thought he was sensational. … He’s become stronger, more tactically aware and you see him now really orchestrating the game for us.”

Incredibly strong words from Rodgers, but Coutinho’s performance was 100 percent deserving of such praise. Newcastle had no answer for the tiny Brazilian, and while his deployment as a false-nine was likely a one-off for Liverpool, it present Rodgers with another tactical wrinkle to throw out at unsuspecting opponents down the road.