Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Why, Phil?

This past weekend, many Liverpool supporters were left asking themselves this very question, why Phil? Why did you leave us? I, like many others were angry, but also it wasn't the best kept transfer secret and everyone knew it was bound to happen but for us Liverpool supporters there still remained that glimmer of hope the Philippe would see the bigger picture and stay with the club a little longer but alas it wasn't to be. The rumour mill started from the new year with his sudden thigh strain which kept him out of 2-1 win over Burnley and then the 2-1 win over Everton in the FA Cup, concerns were growing, all eyes were on Twitter to see the latest in terms of the on goings of this transfer. When news of him having not traveled with the rest of the squad to Dubai for some summer training, the writing should have been on the wall for us but yet, like the blind some of us refused to speculate. Then the news came, late Saturday night, Liverpool have accepted a bid from Barcelona for Coutinho. It was done, he was leaving us for Spain, for a club that is no stranger from hijacking our star players, as they did not so long ago to Luis Suarez. But why? Did he not see the bigger picture that was unfolding at Anfield? Was he fed up with the cold miserable weather? Did he not get enough hugs from Klopp? What was it? Why did he leave?

Well, I have a theory, well not so much of a theory but it makes a lot of sense. Hailing from South Africa, we for some odd reason love the English Premiership, and hold it in high regard as on of the best, if not the best leagues in the world. Many other countries share the same sentiments even though 90% of the die-hard supporters will never get a chance to see their team play live, we still cherish the weekends when they play. Much like how our fanfare with the English league is, down in South America, they love the Spanish League. Perhaps it has to do with the culture, the language, the style of football. The appeal is there and and there's many a kid in the street playing football with a dream to play in the La Liga. Philippe was one of those kids, Born and raised in one of the biggest cities in South America, Rio de Janeiro, he showed great promise in Vasco da Gama's youth system and was eventually signed by Inter Milan, he didn't have an easy time in Italy but it was a stepping stone into Europe and a step closer to achieving his dream of playing for Barcelona. After a few seasons being loaned out to various clubs, eventually in 2013 he was signed by Liverpool. Under the guidance of Brendan Rogers, he didn't take that long to settle down and fans saw glimpses of what the kid could offer. 

"Little Magician" as he is fondly called, he started making his way into the league, with some acute passing, masterful trickery and that deadly curling shot at goal. He soon became a fan favourite and won numerous awards with the clubs but sadly no trophies, In his 5 year spell at the club, he became a fan favourite one player that we hoped started every game. Just before the 2017/18 season could start, speculation came in that a bid for him was received from Barcelona. With him being integral to the squad, you could understand the clubs decision to turn down any sort of bid for the player but for Philippe, this was his moment. That kid playing in the dusty streets of Rio, dreaming of playing for Barcelona one day was now a reality. Hence he submitted a transfer request, which the club also shot down. Now, whether or not the he could see it, Liverpool are on a long term building program with the manager and the owners for the first time on the same page. They both trust each other and they both want success, while I understand the player must be frustrated for one, not winning and silverware in his time, and two, finally having his dream move in place only for the doors to be shut, which made him oblivious to the bigger picture at hand. 

While for him at that time as a kid, LaLiga was the be all and end all of football, times have changed and English football is highly regarded in Europe and it shows on its center stage with all 5 teams now in the knock-out phase of the Champions League. But I suppose if you have to take into account the language barrier, the weather and the style of football, you can see why his mind was still dead on making the move. After what seemed to have been ages for the summer window to close, he still remained at the club. Whether he was unhappy or not, we couldn't tell as he still played well for us, scored some amazing goals, none more so than what proved to be his last for us against Swansea. What a pearler that was and just the right way to remember him. 

His decision to leave the club in January may be odd, we're not sure what sort of agreement he made. maybe if the club were still challenging for the title he would have stayed till the end but whatever the case is, he's gone now and with that he became the second most expensive player in world football. That burden of the price ta won't bother him though, he's going to shine at Barca, with Messi and former partner in crime Suarez its only evident that he will. At the same time, while over the last 3 games, we've proved we can win without him, and we no doubt have the fire power, he still will be missed for created chances out of nothing and scoring some cracking goals. 

Bye Philippe. 

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