Anfield and Brendan Rodgers begin the long journey out of the shadows of the reign of King Kenny

 

Anfield

It had rained all week on Merseyside; wet enough for the Creamfields pop festival up the road in Warrington to be abandoned. It would, however, have needed a monsoon to wash the blood out of Anfield.

Liverpool are a club that has committed regicide. The removal of Kenny Dalglish was a big, big call; the argument for it was not overwhelming and to most who crammed into the old stadium yesterday he was an icon – a poster on their bedroom wall, a line in a song, a keeper of their flame.

Anfield's last league game here had seen Dalglish lead his side on a lap of honour after Chelsea had been crushed 4-1. He walked very slowly past each banner-draped corner of the ground, almost as if he knew – and maybe he did already know – that he would not be returning.

This was a big, big moment for Brendan Rodgers. The club's American owners had always wanted a young, intelligent, innovative manager. At one time it might have been Jurgen Klopp from Borussia Dortmund or Andre Villas-Boas rather than the boy from the Antrim coast.

In many ways, despite the radical changes Rodgers has made – there were only four survivors in this starting line-up from that game against Chelsea – it was a game that echoed how Dalglish's sides had performed at Anfield last season. Liverpool played well, they entertained and yet they did not win.

Whoever had succeeded Dalglish would have had to journey long and far to escape their predecessor's shadow or the rhythmic, menacing chants of "Dalglish" that had so haunted Roy Hodgson's brief time at Liverpool. It was not sounded once on an afternoon that made what Rodgers called "the journey" appear a little less daunting.

Defensively, however, Liverpool have now conceded five times in two games and displayed self-destructive tendencies that mirror the Spice Boys of Roy Evans at their worst. It was typical of Rodgers that he should say Martin Skrtel's fatal back-pass had been brave rather than foolish.

He must have feared Manchester City would inflict greater damage. Rodgers was facing the champions of England without his best defender, Daniel Agger, and with a side that is very much a work in progress. His latest acquisition, Real Madrid's Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin, watched from the directors' box with a scarf around his neck.

Rodgers' other signings, Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, performed well enough under pressure to suggest that the fear factor that comes with playing at Anfield, and which notably has seemed to inhibit Jordan Henderson, will not infect them.

"Bittersweet is the perfect way to sum it up," said Allen, cradling a man-of-the match champagne that but for a single disastrous pass to Carlos Tevez might have gone to Skrtel.

"He is 5ft 6in," said Rodgers, his manager at Swansea and now Liverpool, "but as a footballer Joe stands 7ft 6in tall and the supporters will enjoy watching him play."

Choosing the teenage Raheem Sterling to face the champions of England suggested that whatever he may be, Rodgers will be bold. It has been quite a summer for Jamaicans with pace to burn and Sterling, born in Kingston but brought up in London, possesses that. His signing, from the Queen's Park Rangers academy, was one of the last acts carried out under Rafa Benitez, another whose regime carries with it a fair dollop of nostalgia at Anfield.

Sterling had only made his full debut in the 1-0 win over Heart of Midlothian last Thursday night but, as Theo Walcott has shown, there is something purely electric about a young man who attacks defences at speed – although Sterling was helped by the defence he was running at, one that has now conceded two goals in each of its first three games.

"Was it a hard decision to pick him?" Rodgers wondered aloud. "No, it was an easy decision.

"I told the players that I will not judge them on their status at the club, I will judge them on what I see in front of me."

What he saw was the first step on Liverpool's journey away from its past.

Is Sterling the new Barnes?

Raheem Sterling impressed yesterday but Brendan Rodgers had contemplated sending him on loan before his display in the Europa League at Hearts. Sterling, 17, has been compared with the Liverpool great John Barnes. Both wingers were born in Kingston and grew up.

Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Sport
Jose Mourinho restrains his assistant manager Rui Faria, Fabio Borini celebrates his winning penalty and Connor Wickham equalises for Sunderland
sportChelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Deafeat is extra bitter as former Chelsea player Fabio Borini scores late penalty to seal victory
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit