2 Mar 2015

Thommo raves: 'Sensational' £20m LFC star could be 'world-class' in 2 years. Agree?

Liverpool attacker Philippe Coutinho is one of the key architects of Liverpool's ongoing resurgence, and he proved that once again today with a match-winning wonder-goal against Manchester City. Along with Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho is one of Brendan Rodgers' best signings, and ex-Red David Thompson insists that the 'sensational' Brazilian will really come into his own over the next two years.

Reacting to £20m-rated Coutinho's performance against Man City, Thompson tweeted:

"Great performance from LFC and I can't even begin to describe how much I rate Coutinho now. This boy could be world class with in two years"

A bold claim indeed, but in reality, Coutinho has a long way to go before he achieves 'world-class' status.

When assessing 'World Class' ability, the only fair way to judge is to apply - where possible - objective criteria. A purely subjective analysis has questionable merit because it is based on emotion, (flawed) individual perception and biased, experiential interpretation.

The subjective formula is basically: "I see, therefore he is...World Class". Subjectively, any player can be anointed 'world class', but it arguably has no meaning unless the label can be persuasively justified with objective facts.

As such, before Coutinho can be considered 'World Class', he'll have to excel at all three levels of football:

* DOMESTIC: National Leagues.
* EUROPEAN: Elite European Competitions (Champions League, or equivalent)
* WORLD: International Tournaments (Qualifying and finals)

In my view, a player cannot be considered World Class unless and until:

* He excels - i.e. has a specific, measurable impact (SMI) - at all three levels of football.
* He dominates games and pushes his team to relative success at all three levels.

With regards to relative success, the following should be considered:

* The team's relative strength in comparison to other teams in the league/group.
* The team's Optimum Achievement Level (OAL)
* Causation: The player's causal contribution to his team's OAL.

Key questions

* What is the OAL of this team in a given competition? In other words, considering the overall quality of players available, what is the absolute best this team can realistically expect to achieve?

* To what extend did the player in question help the team to meet its OAL?
* But for the player under consideration, would the team still have achieved its OAL?

Issues to Consider

* SMI at all three levels is required.

* A variety of objective, position-specific criteria should be used when assessing the SMI of players. For example, for attacking players: Goals; assists; conversion rate; key passes; shot-assists; passing accuracy etc. For defenders: goals conceded; blocks; aerial duels won; tackle success rate etc.

* A player's individual SMI is all important. How far did the player contribute to the team achieving its OAL? If you remove the player's SMI from the equation, would the team still achieve its OAL? If so, then that player is probably not world class. Truly world class players are absolutely integral to their team's success, to the extent that, without that player, the team would not achieve its OAL.

In Coutinho's case, he's clearly had the requisite impact for LFC at domestic level, but if he's to achieve world-class status 'over the next two years', he'll need to excel for Liverpool in European competition, and dominate for Brazil at international level.

Coutinho is more than capable of helping Liverpool achieve its OAL in Europe, but it remains to be seen whether he can reproduce his domestic form on the international stage.

Right now, Coutinho is not world-class (IMO), but given the opportunity to prove himself (i.e on the international stage), I'm sure he can achieve world-class status.

It'll take a hell of a lot longer than two years, though.

World-Class: A New Definition (Full Article)



  1. So presumably players who come from countries who have poor international teams could never be considered world class. Yeah, I'm gonna go right ahead and call "bullshit" on this one

  2. Really...a whole lotta words just to lend gravitas to a simple opinion. My simple definition is whether a player in a top flight league can carry a team on his back to a victory against a worthy opponent with similar credentials...Coutinho did that today. A more realistic definition would be who is willing to pay what for his services. We'll see what happens this summer. I'm hoping Coutinho sees his future in helping bring LFC back to the pinnacle of world football where it belongs.

  3. Can't recall Gerrard having any impact at the World cups or Euros, are you saying he was never a world class player? You could accuse Ronaldo of the same. International football is overrated club level is where the real professionals are to be judged.

  4. Gotta say I don't quite agree.

    Of course what you consider World Class is completely your opinion, but this article makes it much more formulaic and cut and dry than it really is. You list all these requirements but in reality, there are exceptions and reconsiderations for every single one of them.

    In my opinion there are only 3 key factors, all of which are up for interpretation:
    1) Importance to his team(s)
    2) Recognition of talent
    3) Living up to recognition

    If all things are met to the highest degree, then IN MY OPINION (<--- key) a player is World Class.

  5. The obvious issue with this objective standard for determining whether a
    player is 'world class' is that the standard itself is based on a
    subjective definition of 'world class'.

    That said, I don't really understand the offence taken to the idea. Maybe it is presented in a way that fails to acknowledge this nuance, but at the end end of the day, it is just another person's opinion. It's just codified in a more easily understood, and subsequently disputed, fashion.

  6. I would call coutinho universe class

  7. Yeah neglect that the guy said 'could be' and also in 2 years time. I agree, but its not a certainty. He needs to score more goals and also Rodgers need to give him a more clinical striker to play with. Sturridge's injury record doesn't help. If those things happen I think he will be. We keep forgetting how young most of these LFC players are.

  8. I'm not sure I buy your self established criteria for "world class". International football can ignore great players or flatter average ones. I'm not saying Coutinho is world class yet but he could have done a job for Brazil in the World Cup considering their lack of midfield creativity...
    Baros, Robbie Keane and Alex Frei all improved the Aol of their teams at international level but were not world class...
    Also attacking stats alone would not do such a hard working AM justice... Compare David Silva and Coutinhos stats and it looks cut and dried but that would ignore that when their teams are without the ball only one excels...
    2 years is not only possible but I don't believe it would take much to be shorter than that....
    Real Madrid bought Bale for a record transfer fee without Wales ever qualifying for a tournament.....
    Seems sometimes you just watch a player rather than trying to create formulas to establish how good they are....

  9. Coutinho may not quite be in the world class bracket just yet but if he continues on the same trajectory then he will be and I think 2 years is probably about the right amount of time to develop his game that wee bit further and take it to the world class level

  10. Money shouldn't be the criteria. More often than not, less than average players get paid too much for their services (like Carroll, Shaw). Performance in League and Europe should be of utmost importance in determining this. I'm excluding international teams because they are rarely stable and not everybody is able to represent a top team (like Bale)

  11. He's on the right track. All you can do as a player/team/manager is improve each season and this year he's taken some big steps. We shouldn't get too excited about what we saw against City, they were pretty poor in the centre of the park and the spaces that Lallana and Coutinho found won't exist against a team like Chelsea. United on the other hand ... I'm looking forward to Coutinho driving a bus through the gaps in their defence and if we can finish off the attacks it'll be a whitewash.

    If Coutinho continues to grow this season then he'll play for Brazil soon enough. Liverpool are a good shot for CL and then he'll have a chance to show those same skills in Europe. He just needs to keep adding to his game and developing what he's obviously so good at. I'd say if he does this for another two years then he'll be not far off that world class mark. I don't think you have to display years of top drawer form to earn that title, it's just that doing it consistently is more impressive and earns you more plaudits.

  12. He has definitely learned how to shoot. That's 3 long range goals in as many weeks. I used to curse every time he lined himself up for a long range.

  13. Later to be plucked out by either RM or Barca

  14. Money parlayed by teams with reputations to maintain can be the criteria in this case. But I don't want to paint Coutinho with a false brush. Right now the kid's heart is with LFC...and LFC's heart should be with him too.

  15. Not sure what you're saying about Silva. Until today I believed there were only 2 truly great attacking MFs in the PL: Hazard and Silva...now I think there are 3. Coutinho outplayed Silva the entire game. But I still think Silva is truly wonderful to watch...today Coutinho was better.

  16. Yeah, but it wasn't just the shooting. It was the control of the MF, the ability and confidence to start the attack, pull defenders to him, beat the first man, come back time after time to pick up the pass from the back and drive his team forward. It was 94 minutes of class.

  17. So Ryan Giggs, Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney, and any British players since 1966 for this matter cannot be considered world class because they don't fulfill your world requirements. Add to that list Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Company, Diego Costa, John Terry, Eden Hazzard, and too many others to name, all of whom have failed on the world stage. Actually by your standards the EPL almost no world class players, and it would be interesting to know who you feel is world class.
    P.S. are you really for liverpool, cause it seems like most of your articles you bash our best players,

  18. 20 Mill for Coutinho is pittance. He should be double that.. "world class" is a term used just like "Legends"in Football. Can't care less as long as he delivers the goods for Liverpool.

  19. Clearly Philippe Coutinho and Henderson are miles ahead of Sturridge and Sterling as the results against City and Beşiktaş

  20. John Barnes was not even close of being world class.
    I see that now.

  21. Agree Coutinho or world class Sterling ?
    Harry Kane or world class Sturridge ?
    Bony or world class Falco ?

  22. talk about over analysing

  23. Even Pele is not world class according to European criteria.

  24. Surely no player can be considered truly 'world class' until he's starred in his own Pepsi or Nike advert. Or Cookstown sausages.

  25. World class the dumbest way to rate a player ever that is so silly if you are a star at club level against top opposition who cares how you go against New Guinea or San Marino.

  26. Thats because Europe thinks they produce the best players but they dont.

  27. I don't like the label; it's too subjective. Player stats don't don't tell the whole story, and nor does perceived success as part of a group at European or international level. It seems rather cold and mechanical to base our opinions on a set of criteria which may not even be achievable for some players, and it shouldn't lessen our appreciation of extraordinary talent and ability.

    All I know is what I see, and right now I am enjoying watching a player whose trickery and ability to drift past others is on a level well above all but a small group and whose influence is growing by the game. If he continues to develop and finds consistency who knows how good he can become. But he is already a special, important player, right now, and that's all that really matters.

  28. Mr. Point Of View8:15 am, March 02, 2015

    i dont agree sterling is world class and non of liverpool player can consider world class !

    consistent perform at top level = world class

    10 n 31 only once in a while does that ! No doubt both of them WILL BE world class on day

  29. Really? I think t is often the other way round an in truth country or Continent does not seem to be a determining factor. Its all in the SMI

  30. Mr. Point Of View8:19 am, March 02, 2015

    hahahaha his "class" is not from this "world"

  31. Jaimie, I almost feel like I'm reading a scientific journal article. I think it's way too analytical, especially for a subject like football. Here's the problem. What if you have Player A who consistently achieves almost Ronaldo/Messi like performances domestically and continentally, with an ordinary international record, and then Player B who performs at a Gareth Bale level consistently across the 3 said tiers? Does that mean that player B is world class, and Player A isn't, even while Player B is consistently outshone by Player A domestically and continentally, and shown to be the inferior talent? As a case in point, Messi's international stats from 2005 to 2011 weren't bad, but far from great, but he was considered world class by every football expert long before 2011, and thought of as the best in the world from at least 2009. Your unnecessarily tedious method doesn't allow any room for flexibility, or even some common sense sometimes.

  32. I understand that scientists are developing a laboratory test to detect even the faintest of traces of SMI in the foot This could be the breakthrough we have all been waiting for. .

  33. Jaimie is often on a very different world to the rest of us, and he'll even admit that to you.

  34. Can't tell if I'm reading L-Kop or Harvard Business Review

  35. Absolutely man, but despite other factors you mention, his shooting has stood out the most. By far his biggest improvement. When I used to see Coutinho line up a long range shot, I used it as a chance to go for a piss

  36. Let's be fair, he did say 'Could be world class' and IMO that's a fair thing to say. It's possible that he might be. It's also possible that he wont.

  37. I'm watching recent highlights of Reus at Dortmund. That extension wasn't a ploy to boost his market value. He's definitely staying.

  38. I totally agree with you ,
    Sterling wanting more money
    Falco on a stupid amount of money .
    It just irritates me that these so called world class players demand these huge salaries and do not deliver ?

  39. But he is improving on that hey. I wish Sterling could copy and practice it too. I hate it when he chooses to shoot with that weak shot of his especially when someone else is better positioned for a simple tap-in

  40. No, you have completely misunderstood the concept of 'relative success'. Also, if you post another comment questioning my support - or anyone else's on this site - you'll be permanently banned. Stick to debating the issues or don't comment at all.

  41. Yes, you're entitled to your opinion, and that's fine. However, in my view, subjective opinions of 'world-class' ability have little merit, which is why there should be (as far as possible) an objective standard. Right now, the label 'world-class' has been rendered meaningless due to personal opinion.

  42. No. Like others, you don't seem to get the concept of 'relative success'.

  43. I think your description of what a player needs to achieve to be recognized as a world class is flawed, and here is why.
    Players from my country(Montenegro) will probably never get to WC or EC semifinal simply because they don't have enough good teammates. Still Jovetic was close to achieve that, and so was Vucinic. Dejan Savicevic was absolute world class, by the way. Also players from countries with so many talents as Brazil and Spain might never get the fair chance due to competition. Brazil can easily have 6 world class players but they won't all be part of the squad, let alone the team, and make that kind of influence. And other countries can beat them too..
    The best idea of what should world class parameters should be I heard is widely recognised being in top ten on your position in the world.

  44. "A purely subjective analysis has questionable merit because it is based on emotion, (flawed) individual perception and biased, experiential interpretation. "

    "It'll take a hell of a lot longer than two years, though."

    Isn't that subjective Jaimie? I agree Coutinho isn't worldclass yet, and he may take longer than2 years to reach there. But it is not a guaranteed thing that it will be more than 2 years...

  45. There is no world class awards, subjective opinions is prety much all we have. It is just about who's opinion is it...

  46. And, "...in my view, subjective opinions... have little merit."
    You know what I mean?

  47. I don't need to read it again I have seen it several times before;-)

    Just because JK's definition is European centric does not mean he or every other person in Europe rates European players above any others. Indeed often we seem to be a little too dazzled by those from South America

    Clearly the site is primarily concerned with a European club so he uses European competitions as his second level. In the past he has explained that for clubs on other continents there will be other equivalent competitions.

  48. My own objective measure of world class is whether you would sell your Grandmother to get that player in your team.

  49. Mine is whether I think you're world class or not.

  50. That's as good as any measure ;-)

    Any attempt to be completely objective about a game that is all about opinions and has a myriad of variables is doomed to fail.

  51. This is nonsense, apparently Messi isn't world class then because he hasn't excelled for Argentina......

    IMO a player is world class if he would get into a world XI.....simple

  52. Re the international football aspect - It's not about winning tournaments on the world stage, and/or getting semi-finals etc. It's about having a specific, measurable impact on your country's success in qualifying for, and/or performing at major tournaments.  

    Everything is relative, which allows players from inferior international teams to be considered world class. The two key questions:

    * What is the Optimum Achievement Level (OAL) of the team?

    * Has the player in question had a specific, measurable impact (SMI) on helping his team achieve that level?

    I'll use Andrei Shevchenko as an example.

    *He produced on the domestic and European fronts, but what about international level?

    * You have to ask the following question: what is the highest level a team like Ukraine can reach on the world stage?

    * Given then population/level of quality etc, and looking at their tournament history/performance, the best Ukraine can probably hope for is the group stage of a major tournament, 2nd round/quarter-final at the absolute maximum.

    * Then, you look at what the player's impact in achieving those goals. In this case, Shevchenko was absolutely integral to Ukraine's qualification for major tournaments, and once there, he scored vital goals. 

    * For example: if you take away Shevchenko's goals from Ukraine's WC 2006 qualifying campaign, they would not have made the tournament.

    * Shevchenko has scored 30+ goals in various WC and EC qualifying campaigns for Ukraine, not to mention scoring in World Cups and European Championship finals.

    * Shevchenko has clearly had a specific, measurable impact on helping Ukraine reach its optimum achievement level on the world stage, therefore he is World Class.

    The same thinking applies to the likes of Kenny Dalglish. We all know he did it domestically, and in Europe, but Dalglish was also important for Scotland.

    Without Dalglish's goals/assists, Scotland would never have qualified for the World Cups in 1978 and 1982.  KD is also Scotland's record goalscorer, and when you consider these facts in the context of OAL, and SMI, it's clear that Dalglish was world-class.

  53. Conversely, I would sell a player like Johnson to have my Grandmother on the team.

  54. Now, that I agree with!

  55. Yes, it's subjective. My view on Coutinho taking longer than 2 years to become world-class is not part of the definition.

    I say two years because I don't see how he can establish himself in the Brazil team and dominate an international tournament and/or be integral to Brazil's qualification for the WC etc in just two years.

    Plus, Coutinho still hasn't consistently produced in Europe for Liverpool, and he'll have to do that before he can be considered world-class (IMO, of course)

  56. Just because it's 'all we have' doesn't mean it's right. Human beings try and objectively classify absolutely everything in life, and they do that for a reason: subjective human perception is the unreliable, flawed, and cannot be relied upon.

  57. I wondered if that might draw a comment from you and as usual it was better than I thought ;-)

  58. Jaimie, I Apologize and I will not question your support again.

    But can you at least give us an example of a world class player that fits your criteria. That could go a long way into us understanding your theory.

    Would you consider Neymar to be a world class player? After all he carried a weak Brazil team on his back, which was ironically broken by the Columbians, to the Semis of the WC. In Neymar's absence Brazil played possibly the worst game they have ever played in their history, and if he was not in that team Brazil would probably have lost ALL their games. So from your criteria, he should be one of the first players to be called world class, because no team in recent history has been more reliant upon one player.

    Argentina comes close with Messi (surely you consider Messi to be world class)

    The Germans have very good players but none of them have ever carried a team on their own, (club or country), and they can still win if any one player is absent, even long term. But I am sure we can agree that they have at least a few world class players.

  59. I use my criteria to judge whether someone is world class. On that basis, the following are (IMO) world-class:

    * Xavi
    * Iniesta
    * Messi
    * Ronaldo
    * Pirlo
    * Neuer
    * Alonso
    * Muller
    * Schweinsteiger

    All of the above have excelled at all three levels of football: Domestic, European, and World.

    Liverpool have no world-class players.

    In my view, Neymar is not yet world-class. He's proven himself on the international stage, but he hasn't dominated for Barcelona yet.

    Messi and Ronaldo have both propelled their respective clubs to league/Champions League trophies. When Neymar achieves that, then he can be considered world-class (IMO)

  60. Keep up the good work Jaimie. I'm all for your analytical approach. I'm just about to finish my PhD which is specifically looking at this type of methodology. I may even reference some of your world class work.

  61. You forgot Gerrard

  62. I have a pragmatic approach to this question. A top club side would have at least two players per position, so, if we had a World Team playing in the Galaxy League (stop laughing at the back!) And we allowed three players per position, would a player be among the best three in his position. Of course this would be very subjective. But in many cases, players who are given the "world class" label, would immediately fail this test.

  63. Gerrard is no longer world class (IMO). It's debatable if he ever was as he never did the business for England, despite having many chances.

  64. George Best, anyone?
    Says it all, really.

  65. Mine is whether you'd f**k your grandmother to get them in your team... ;-)

  66. World Class is a term used by people to describe someone. Don't fancy the idea of putting up a "subjective formula" for every adjective around.

  67. In Jaimie's defence, it's not about making semi finals and what not. It's about what any given team can most possibly achieve. It's a relative context.

  68. That's a specific new class you've discovered. I propose the name 'Johnson Class' but as you discovered it, perhaps 'Ash Class'?

  69. Lahm is world class. So is Luis Suarez, who HAS propelled his club and country to unexpected heights. Too bad he decided to go and play on Messi's team ....

  70. That would make people think twice before bandying around the term world class

  71. Haha it sure would

  72. Simon Joseph Lau6:59 am, March 03, 2015

    Given those criteria, it is hard for any of our players to be world class. However, I predict we will have at least 4 or 5 players that exhibit the same class on the pitch for us as those eligible for world class status by the prescribed criteria. Coutinho, Can, Sterling, Ibe and Sturridge are all equally capable of getting there.

  73. Sounds like a laddish term for Sex Education.