Liverpool FC : Enrique, Henderson, Adam and Downing Debut Verdict
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, firmly put his cards on the table from the very first game of the season. The Reds spent big in the summer and gave all the new signings, except goalkeeper Doni, a place in the starting lineup.
Quite possibly the most disappointed player in the squad was Dirk Kuyt, who had a good scoring record last season but was always going to be play second fiddle to both Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. But losing his position on the right side of midfield, taken by Jordan Henderson, would have upset the Dutchman.
A point in the bag when the Reds would have preferred to have gotten off to a winning start is not something to be frowning about. Steve Bruce has an excellent record against Liverpool, and this was not going to be a banker for the Reds.
So, how did Dalglish's new recruits do on their first outing in a Premier League match.
Liverpool's new £6 million left fullback, Jose Enrique, was thrown straight into the action due to an unexpected injury to Fabio Aurelio.
Enrique only found out a few hours prior to kickoff of Liverpool's season opener at Anfield that he was in the starting line. And to say that he had only one training season with his new teammates, he performed extremely well.
The Spaniard is seen as Kenny Dalglish's solution to Liverpool's left-back problem, and he showed that the Reds could well have spent wisely in acquiring his services.
El Torro, as he is known, showed good touches going forward and seemed solid at the back when needing to defend. But his inexperience playing with his new teammates was evident as his positioning at set pieces was suitable and verbally corrected by his captain Jamie Carragher.
All in all, Enrique can be pleased with his debut and clearly as he becomes more accustomed to the Liverpool way and trains with the squad, the fans will see more of arguably the best fullback in the Premier League last season.
Solid, steady and good going further; there is a lot more to come from Enrique, and Liverpool could well have found a solution to one long-term problem.
Without doubt, as he began his Liverpool career against ironically his previous club Sunderland, Jordan Henderson is the summer signing that has the most to prove.
The young Englishman was Kenny Dalglish's first summer signing and a hefty one at that.
Henderson comes into an Anfield dressing room and training ground filled to the brim with quality midfielders. Getting a regular place amongst such accomplished teammates will be a real challenge for the youngster.
On his debut, Henderson was employed on the right flank, a position that is not really his best at all, but he started brightly, driven on by adrenaline and the occasion. However, as with the rest of the team, he faded badly before being replaced by Dirk Kuyt on the hour.
Henderson himself, if honest, would agree that it was not the most inspiring of debuts, and if he is to come anywhere near being value for money, then a lot more would need to be forthcoming from him.
However, Dalglish has not bought for today, tomorrow or even this season. The Scot is looking to the future, and with Steven Gerrard not too many seasons away from reluctantly forfeiting his first team spot, it is hoped the Henderson will have matured and developed to slot into Gerrard's position.
Promising, with a whole lot more to come, would be the verdict on Henderson's debut, and he for one has time on his side.
At the centre of Liverpool's midfield, there is now the left footed creativity of Charlie Adam and at £7 million, he could well prove to be one of the buys of the transfer window.
Adam's comfort on the ball, is a comfort to the fans that watch him and his manager Kenny Dalglish. He seems to have been wearing the red of the Reds for so many more than the few games that he has played in the pre season, so effortless has been his transition into the Liverpool midfield.
It now seems that whatever combination Dalglish wishes to employ in midfield, it will be stronger with Adam in it.
The Scot's prowess from dead balls and set pieces, will push Steven Gerrard's role as automatic taker of such kicks to the extreme. It was Adam's superbly whipped in free kick that Luis Suarez got his head to that opened Liverpool goalscoring account for the new season.
Not blessed with pace, Adam was still (in the first half) able to control the game with vision, passing, tackling, composure and above all else leadership. In Adam, Liverpool may well have found another midfield driver that can pull the team through tough matches and patches within them.
When the referee pointed to the spot, it was a little surprising the Adam was not given the responsibility, as his penalty taking skills rank right up there amongst the Premier League's best. In preseason, Adam stroked home a penalty, that he had to hold his nerve to take twice.
Surely after Suarez's howler, it will be Adam that will be challenging Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt as Liverpool's designated spot kick takers.
From his debut, Adam can take many positives, and as he blends into the Liverpool team, he will surely become one of the Reds' key players this season.
Liverpool may finally have found that out and out winger that they have so long coveted. Stewart Downing was bought to the club for a huge transfer fee to do exactly what he did in the first half of his debut.
The left winger, probed and constantly beat his man with skill and pace. On the half hour, playing this time on the right, he cut in and unleashed a pile driver of a shot that shook the crossbar.
At Aston Villa last season, Downing's statistics for crosses, assists and dribbles were amongst the best in the Premier League, and hence, Liverpool owners accepted Kenny Dalglish's wish to place the big money on the table for the services of the Englishman.
Along with the wing play that Downing so obviously offers Dalglish, is his versatility. He played on the right, in the hole, as well on on the left on Saturday and all with accomplished skill and confidence.
Downing demonstrated in one half of football, all that Liverpool have missed in seasons gone by, his ability to beat a man on the wing and either deliver a telling ball into the box or hit a threatening shot towards goal.
It was also promising to see Downing and Jose Enrique forging a good understanding, as it is very likely that this will be the first choice combination down Liverpool's left side this season.
Downing's Liverpool debut was very promising and again, it looks like Dalglish has found the missing wide player that the club has so badly lacked in the past.
Downing will, for sure, also be one of Liverpool's vital players this season
Liverpool's debutants on Saturday gave the fans a real taste of the positive things to come from them and the Reds this season.
Much has been written about how Liverpool faded away in the second half, and in all honesty, they did. It was stated that there was a sudden lack of a spark and that the team seemed devoid of ideas. Once again possibly, also not far from the truth.
These observation are all pretty obvious and to those that took time to write about them, all too clear. But the question that really needs to be address here is why?
The answer is as clear as the observations themselves. This Liverpool team was made up of four debutants, three of whom occupied the four midfield places available and the other with less than one training session with his new team under his belt.
If pundits expected a team performance of cohesion and complete understanding then they must have been a little naive.
Liverpool's debut was exactly what should have been expected; an initial burst typical of a set of players filled with adrenaline and drive, followed by a slight slump as the occasion was settled and their relative inexperience of playing together took over.
Kenny Dalglish asked for time and that is what is needed. Time for the players to gel and get accustomed to playing together. After this, fans and pundits will see more of what was on show in the first half than in the second.
If this does indeed pan out, Liverpool will be on the road to success once more.