Philippe Coutinho Talks Bayern Boss Hansi Flick, Playing with Thomas Muller

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2019

MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Philippe Coutinho of FC Bayern Muenchen controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena on November 9, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho has discussed the changes made by interim Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick in recent weeks and welcomed the opportunity to play more with Thomas Muller. 

The Brazilian scored his first goal for the club since September in Bayern's 4-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday (U.S. only):

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Coutinho ➡️ Lewandowski ➡️ Coutinho ➡️ 4-0, @FCBayernUS! #F95FCB https://t.co/wf444HttSl

"I tried to repay [Flick's] faith in me," Coutinho said to TZ (h/t Goal's Chris Burton).

The playmaker said Flick has made "mainly tactical" changes to Bayern's approach, largely relating to organised pressing of the opposition to disrupt their rhythm.

Coutinho said he and his team-mates "didn't expect it to be so successful so quickly," but "from the very start, we understood what he wants from us and how he ticks, both on the pitch and in the changing room."

Flick has taken temporary charge of the side after Niko Kovac was sacked following Bayern's 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt on November 2.

The interim coach has enjoyed a strong start in the weeks since:

DW Sports @dw_sports

Bayern Munich since Hansi Flick took over as coach: ✅2-0 vs. Olympiakos ✅4-0 vs. Borussia Dortmund ✅4-0 vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf 10 goals scored, none conceded. 🔥 https://t.co/kX7LeuJBxs

Forbes' Bundesliga writer Manuel Veth praised Flick's setup of the side on Saturday, while DAZN's Cristian Nyari could also see a difference in the team from their time under Kovac:

Manuel Veth @ManuelVeth

Easy 45 minutes for #Bayern. Flick has his side setup perfectly, not allowing #F95 any opportunity to counter-press. A professional performance. At this point the only question is: will Lewandowski finally get his goal against Fortuna? #F95FCB

Cristian Nyari @Cnyari

Something very different about this Bayern team. Doing flicks, one-two’s, aggressively pushing for goals. Having fun out there again. Great to watch!

Kovac won the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal with Bayern last season, but his side weren't especially convincing. At one stage, they were nine points behind Borussia Dortmund.

This season, Kovac had begun transitioning away from using Muller, who had started a combined total of just six Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League matches under him before he was sacked.

Muller has started all three of Flick's games, and Coutinho is happy to play alongside the German:

"I've always said I can play with Thomas.

"He's a great player and someone who's very important for Bayern. He's got everything, talent and experience, which makes him an essential part of the team.

"I've got my strengths and he's got his—the only thing that matters is combining them together for Bayern."

The 30-year-old isn't quite the force he once was. He's only scored 35 goals since the start of the 2016-17 season, having netted 32 in 2015-16 alone.

However, he has justified Flick's decision to return him to the starting lineup, contributing a brace of assists in each of his last two games.

On Saturday, Muller starting meant Coutinho was moved onto the left.

The 27-year-old isn't a winger and so does not provide a great deal of width from such positions, but because of the quality of his delivery and his ability to cut inside and shoot from distance, he can still be a threat from those areas.

Bayern's revival has left them just one point off the top of the Bundesliga, and if Flick can get Coutinho and Muller firing on all cylinders behind Robert Lewandowski, the Bavarians could still run away with the title.