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Steven Gerrard: Philippe Coutinho will only get better for Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard expects Philippe Coutinho will only get better after the playmaker’s stunning debut for Villa.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard (right) hugs Philippe Coutinho
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard (right) hugs Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho came off the bench to inspire a fantastic fightback as Villa came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Manchester United.

The Brazil international, who joined on loan from Barcelona last week, teed up Jacob Ramsey before bagging the equaliser himself.

Gerrard believes there will be more to come once the 29-year-old is fully up to speed.

He said: "It was a really strong cameo which is no surprise because we know he carries really strong quality.

“He was involved in both goals and there will be many more big moments moving forward, I’m sure.

“The important thing now is we get him recovered and a full week’s training. He gave me today from the bench exactly what I wanted. It was no surprise the huge quality he brought to the game.

“He’s a good player who has experience in this league. He has trained really well this week but the reason it was a cameo rather than a start is because we have analysed his stats over a few days.

“It will only be a matter of time before he is looking fitter and stronger but this will do him the world of good in terms of his confidence and belief.

“It shows he is capable of being involved and contributing positive things for this club. I’m delighted for him.”

Villa had looked destined for defeat after two goals from Bruno Fernandes had put United in command.

Gerrard said: “We had a choice of whether we went under or did the right things. The second half performance was completely different to the first.

“I had to say some honest things to the team and some players at half-time because I thought we were second best for the majority of the first half.”

The Villa boss also revealed he had spoken to Morgan Sanson after the midfielder booted a water bottle carrier following his second half substitution. Sanson was withdrawn from the action seconds after his error led to United’s second.

Gerrard said: “I asked Morgan whether the frustration was at me or himself for the error.

“He assures me it was over the error. I am OK with mistakes when players are trying to do the right things.

“We have all made mistakes through our career. I will never point a finger at a player. I would have had an issue if Morgan’s reaction was because of my decision because I think you have to respect the person replacing you on the side. He assures me it has nothing to do with that so there is no issue.”

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