International weeks are stressful things for Premier League fans. Your players fly to all corners of the globe and, whilst you hope they do well, you’re mainly hoping they don’t get injured.
In fact, ideally, they wouldn’t get picked at all. Sod their international ambitions and personal happiness, we own you now.
Except we don’t, unfortunately, so you end up following Egypt worrying about the quality of pitches in Uganda or googling Burkina Faso to see how many miles it from Liverpool and how far Ouagadougou Airport is from the ground. Not far it turns out.
I reckon Sadio Mané could have flown back to Liverpool Tuesday night if, not unlike most of the Anfield crowd, he left early to avoid the traffic.
In my defence, it is a big game on Saturday as Liverpool go away at Man City. With the game kicking off early, both teams will be as keen to get their star players back as quickly as possible.
To the extent that both teams apparently lashed in to get their Brazilian stars back on a private jet. Thanks to Willian we got a glimpse into what one of those looks like.
As soon as the picture was released, the LFC body language experts were in full flow. The fact that Philippe Coutinho was smiling showed to many that he can’t possibly be “living in a moment of very great sadness”, like Neymar had suggested after Brazil’s win against Ecuador.
Although, I dispute this theory. Personally, I’ve smiled on loads of pictures at family parties, when inside I have very much been living in a moment of great sadness.
These things can be deceiving, the key is to look into the eyes.
Of course, Neymar hasn’t been the only Brazilian legend to have his say on the Coutinho saga. All-time Brazilian record goalscorer and erectile dysfunction awareness campaigner, Pele has said this week that Coutinho doesn’t need to leave Liverpool as he can win the Ballon D’Or there – which is nice of him.
David Seaman-lobber Ronaldinho has also been on, predicting Coutinho “will give everything” for Liverpool now he is back there. All good news.
However, Gisele has said Jurgen Klopp is out of order for not letting Coutinho move to Barcelona and The Christ the Redeemer statue has called The Premier League overrated crap. So, mixed views out of Brazil.
Quite how anyone at Liverpool approaches the issue of Phil Coutinho and his infinite sadness now he is back on Merseyside remains to be seen. He’ll probably be named on the bench on Saturday, allowing him to be gradually reintroduced back into the team and give him an opportunity to look moody in a big coat.
Which, to be fair, has been a really strong look in Manchester for years. Then he can come on to lukewarm applause from the away end, only to score the winner and make us all mates again. Well, let’s hope so.
Not that The Reds need him. Have you heard that Ben Woodburn is the best player in the world now?
He’s basically got Gareth Bale cleaning his boots. The Welsh fans love him so much they’ve written a song for him, including inventing a position for him because “playing on the right” is easier to rhyme than “playing on the left but with licence to cut inside”, or “playing as an attacking central midfielder who’s encouraged to get in the box”.
Well we’re all allowed some creative licence. Have you read my columns? I’ve got a statue doing footy chat there.
Liverpool have also got Alex Oxlade Chamberlain now of course, who has apparently been told he will play central midfield.
But we blagged James Milner with that one too, and then played him for a season at left back, so he shouldn’t hold his breath.
It is unclear who Nathaniel Clyne’s injury news is worse news for, Clyne or Oxlade Chamberlain. Look out for Jurgen Klopp saying “we only said we wouldn’t play you wing back, mate” before giving poor Alex two months of sweeping up behind Dejan Lovren. The poor thing.