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Sunday, 18 August 2013

News Media Watch from Liverpool FC: Telegraph: BR wants to be 'part of the conversation'

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Telegraph: BR wants to be 'part of the conversation'
Aug 18th 2013, 11:39

This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

"We want to make sure we are part of the conversation this season," was the modest ambition Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers set ahead of an enthralling opening-day victory.

There was enough against Stoke to keep tongues wagging for the rest of the year, Daniel Sturridge's winning goal barely scratching the surface of the kind of breathless start the Premier League's advertising staff salivate over.

Having dominated, Liverpool put themselves through a torturous finale when Daniel Agger handled Charlie Adam's 88th-minute free-kick.

Debutant goalkeeper Simon Mignolet then saved Jon Walters' 89th-minute penalty and Anfield erupted, the Belgian swamped in so many red shirts it was as if the title itself was secured.

You might argue it is too early for lingering on potential turning points in a season, but have a rethink. Liverpool have been psychologically scarred by opening-day disappointments in recent years.

Roy Hodgson never recovered after a Pepe Reina howler against Arsenal a few years ago, the Kenny Dalglish era was undermined by a series of home draws. Last year Liverpool were out of the race for fourth before Rodgers settled into office. 

Mignolet may yet look back at this first meaningful contribution as pivotal to the year's ambitions. At the very least, it will enable him to prove he is up to the task of replacing the popular Reina.

"It was a terrific performance but the goalkeeper takes the plaudits," said Rodgers. "He made three terrific saves. When you don't take your chances and get the penalty like that at the end there is that sinking feeling, but Mignolet did his homework and made a great save. You also saw the spirit in the team."

The jubilation, in part, was due to the fact it would have been a travesty had Liverpool not won.

Sturridge's return from injury just in time for the kick-off was a neon lit 'remember me?'. He galvanised Liverpool in the second half of last season and can do likewise for club and country in this one. Fitness permitting, Sturridge will comfortably score 20 goals this season.

The individualistic nature of Sturridge's winner from 20 yards underlined him as a striker, like Suárez, with the capacity to score goals of many different flavours.

Sturridge's perfectly placed left-foot strike on 37 minutes gave Liverpool a deserved lead at a time when, as has so often been the case in recent years, it seemed the opposition goalkeeper was destined to claim the glory.

Asmir Begovic had prevented José Enrique and Jordan Henderson scoring the Premier League's first goal, the former due to excellent keeping and the latter because of Henderson's tame finish. Begovic continued to deny the hosts in the second half.

But with the newly-crowned most popular South American at Anfield, Philippe Coutinho, probing the Stoke defence with all the menace and persistence of a KGB interrogator, it was only a matter of time before Liverpool had some reward.

Stoke were not without encouragement of their own, although with Mark Hughes hastily departing on a scouting mission, it was left to assistant Mark Bowen to lament a missed opportunity.

"I won't tell you where Mark has gone, but it is well documented we are looking for players," said Bowen.

For those seeking evidence of a new look for Stoke, the afternoon was not without encouragement. Robert Huth struck the bar and there was not a long throw-in to be seen.

A couple of six-yard passes from Ryan Shawcross into midfield had the away fans screaming 'Revolution!'

Agger's handball was the gift that should been accepted as they try to rearrange their features. Hughes may ask, however, why it was Walters - who missed two penalties last year - rather than Adam taking the spot-kick. Mignolet also pounced to deny Kenwyne Jones' rebound.

Having kicked off before the rest of the country, Rodgers could even joke about Liverpool being 'top of the league'. On this opening day, at least, the conversations Liverpool were part of were encouraging. 

Source: Telegraph

This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

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