Adam takes some baby steps but young Coady is the real star

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The Independent Online

In football, beginnings are not everything. Charlie Adam's first game for Blackpool saw him sent off in a 3-2 defeat by Doncaster Rovers at Bloomfield Road.

Save for the colour of the seats in the Tianhe Stadium, which were a familiar tangerine, everything about his first game for Liverpool would have seemed alien – from the smothering humidity to the polite rhythmic applause for any pass, however timid.

Adam produced one glimpse of the brilliance that had persuaded Kenny Dalglish to spend six months and £7m pursuing him but otherwise confined himself to small steps and short passes against Guangdong Sunray Cave of the Chinese second division in a game Liverpool won 4-3. "I have waited since January for Charlie and I am not going to put pressure on him in any way, shape or form," said Dalglish.

Those who marched into Guangzhou behind the Red Army in 1949 would not recognise a city whose stadium lies opposite a skyscraper bearing the logo of Saatchi and Saatchi. But the need to wear a uniform endures.

Virtually all at Tianhe Stadium wore red with the Liver crest. "Gerrard" and "Dalglish" were the most popular; nobody seemed to be wearing "21 Coady", yet it was a goal from the young Merseysider that illuminated this game.

When describing Conor Coady (who captained England in the Under-17 European Championship), Jack Robinson, John Flanagan and Andre Wisdom, there was a touch of Arsène Wenger about Dalglish.

"There is no limit to what these young players can achieve when they are ready," he said. "It wasn't just Conor, although he scored a terrific goal. There were a few of them out there, playing in very difficult conditions and they came through."

Dalglish described the reception as "overwhelming" and the Liverpool manager is not used to opposing managers describing him as their "icon and idol", as Cao Yang, in charge of Sunray Cave, did. And yet when Yang remarked Liverpool's defence had been "loose" it triggered Dalglish to respond: "Loose? They were looser than us. They conceded four."