Shockwaves were sent throughout the Arabian Gulf League late on Saturday night as era-defining Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club coach Cosmin Olaroiu departed by mutual consent after a sorry series of draws, ex-UAE boss Mahdi Ali being named as his replacement.
Olaroiu, 48, reached the end of the road in the wake of a seventh-successive stalemate in all competitions being recorded on Friday at home to lowly Al Dhafra in the top flight.
This continued the teething problems at the merged outfit, from which the Romanian previously led – the now defunct – Al Ahli to historic defeat in the 2015 AFC Champions League final and swept up seven trophies after being controversially poached from Al Ain in 2013.
Ex-Ahli midfielder and coach Ali, 52, returns to work after he quit the Whites in March after five transformational years.
The Brazilian duo, ably assisted by Mohamed Salah, tore the Seagulls to shreds in a thumping 5-1 victory.
Emre Can opened the scoring before Firmino added a quickfire second and then doubled his tally in the second half.
Glenn Murray pulled one back from the penalty spot but Coutinho hit the fourth and then forced an own-goal from Lewis Dunk to complete the rout.
Here is how we rated the Reds
Mignolet 7 – Was crucified for costly errors last month but his incredible reflex-save from Murray’s close-range strike was effectively an assist as Liverpool countered with breathtaking speed for their third on the back of his stunning stop.
Alexander-Arnold 6 – A goal-saving challenge from Izquierdo was crucial as it would have allowed Brighton an avenue back into the game with the score at 3-1. Composed and mature from a defensive perspective and tried to bomb forward when the opportunity arose.
Lovren 7 – An improved performance on recent weeks for the Croatian who stepped up to the responsibility of having two out-of-position defenders either side of him. Swept up on the deck and commanded in the air, the Reds will hope he can display this level of confidence on a consistent basis.
Can 7 – The German was used as a full-back at times last season and struggled there but moving inside to centre-back was a much smoother transition. A centre-half’s header for the opener – his first Premier League goal of the campaign – and Klopp’s decision to use Can as the man to bring the ball out the back worked a treat.
Robertson 6 – Finally back in the first-team fold, Robertson was in a surprising left-wing back role but when it comes to dribbling and pace, Alberto Moreno is the better man for the position. However, he offered plenty of quality with crosses into the box and his defensive shape is miles better than the Spaniard.
Henderson 6 – Momentum really seems to slow down when Henderson gets on the ball and his first-time dinks over the top are always horribly off target. From the defensive side, was much more solid than in recent weeks as he and Milner operated in a two-man pivot which never really looked troubled.
Wijnaldum 5 – Predictably, was really uncomfortable on the left side of Liverpool’s back three. Awkwardly kept cutting onto his right foot to make less than convincing passes back to Mignolet but closing in on 100 career goals, you can bet he’s seldom been deployed as a defender.
Milner 7 – Diving in full blooded to make a tackle on the halfway line at 5-1 up encapsulated what Milner gave Liverpool – leadership. Didn’t stop running and was a real rock in the middle to allow the freedom of movement for flair players like Coutinho.
Salah 7 – Failed to make it five consecutive games with a goal but he was electric all the same. Superb assist for Firmino’s second as he slalomed past Brighton defenders on the edge of the box before laying it off for the Brazilian to finish.
Coutinho 9 – Liverpool fans must savour the opportunities to see him play because the magician was magnificent. Twisting, turning, scoring and assisting, the Brazilian was the man of the day. He made three assists, first for Can, then for Firmino before topping off his display with a clever free-kick before seeing a shot diverted into his own net by Dunk.
Firmino 8 – Easy to see why the Brazilian is one of Klopp’s favourites. Dribbling, passing, interceptions, work rate, movement and against Brighton – goals. A quality performance from Firmino and only Coutinho edged him out as the Reds premier player.
Oxlade-Chamberlain 6 – Came on for Salah with 10 minutes remaining and was his usual explosive self as he tried to make an imprint on a game which was already won.
When the call came in from Everton last weekend while I was taking a holiday in Dubai, this was an opportunity I simply could not turn down.
Two key things convinced me to join this great club – the ambition, and I mean both the ambition of the club and the ambition of the owner and the board, and the fact it’s Everton and all its fantastic history.
Three of my best friends in football, Peter Reid, Andy Gray and Paul Bracewell, have always told me what a great club Everton is. But I know it myself. Everton has always stood out in English football.
The ambition that fired the club to its outstanding successes over the decades still remains, for ambition is important for any manager or coach, owner or director. It’s what you need to have, it drives you every day and, hopefully, we can get this club back up the Premier League. That’s what we’re aiming for.
Our will to do it all together will be my way forward. On the pitch I’ll try to infuse the requisite spirit and confidence into the squad of players we have and I want to build us into a winning team. That’s what Evertonians want to see – a winning team, energy and purpose in our play, real fight for the battle and a togetherness all round.
— Everton (@Everton) December 1, 2017
I was at Goodison on Wednesday night for the 4-0 win against West Ham and that provided a window into what we want it to be going forward. We want to get back among the European places and to contesting a Cup final.
This weekend’s game against Huddersfield will tell me a lot about the squad if we can hit the same performance levels we achieved against West Ham.
David Wagner’s team have been really competitive in the Premier League and it will be no straightforward start for me. So it’s about what we do in the preparation and out on the pitch, it’s about building the confidence that comes from us as a management staff and making life simpler for the players, trying to relax them so they can play to their potential as individuals and as a team.
The commitment of the players, that expectation of them giving their all, will be there because it has to be. That’s the basis of everything.