LIVERPOOL’S draw with Manchester City threw up a number of talking points.
But for me, the most telling factor was not about who was in the starting line-up, but who wasn’t.
Four of Kenny Dalglish’s signings last summer – Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Jose Enrique, Andy Carroll – were on the bench while a fifth, Charlie Adam, didn’t even get that far. Only Sebastian Coates was involved from the start of those brought in 12 months ago.
I don’t think Brendan Rodgers was laying down a deliberate marker by not playing the quintet, but it will have triggered an alarm in the minds of the players.
Not least Downing, who saw his place taken by 17-year-old Raheem Sterling.
Sterling did extremely well. Although I thought he did well at Hearts, like many people I was surprised to see him starting against City.
It’s that classic thing where the manager has seen enough of Sterling in training to think he was ready. It was a real compliment to Sterling.
What really impressed me most about the youngster was that, tactically and defensively, he did an excellent job for the team, one that belied his tender years. He threw himself into the tackle, and really put in a good shift. Not easy on your full Premier League debut against the champions.
Sterling is a true winger, a player who hugged the touchline and spent as much time wide as he could.