Well, you know how this goes. I'm supposed to tell you that though it wasn't pretty, and oft-times ugly, considering the lineup and the overall goal a 1-0 win away from home in Europe in what can be a pretty riotous atmosphere is not the end of the world.
And it's not, and there are positives to be drawn. Some very young players in Shelvey, Robinson, Sterling, Henderson got some more experience in a competition they wouldn't have before. While they didn't create that much, they certainly didn't concede much either. Yes, it's only Hearts who are really nothing more than just on the good side of a mid-table Scottish team. You'd like to be more inspired. But considering how little they threatened, you can't see where they can scare what should be a more fervent Liverpool side at Anfield, and that means through to the group stages. And that means more games to give other players a look and experience.
Oh, and we learned that Charlie Adam still sucks.
It's funny, on Saturday when things weren't working, the more experienced players reverted to what they thought had worked before. More long balls, more play out wide, more crosses to nowhere. But tonight, with the less experience in the side, it seemed as if they were trying to stick to their new directives at all costs. Liverpool seemed desperate to play out of the back, through the high pressure of Hearts. Constantly, Spearing and Adam dropped back only to find defenders on their backs and having to go back to Carragher or Agger. I'm not advocating long ball-apalooza here, but a couple more just to stretch the opposition couldn't have hurt. But it's ok,
What's a little worrying is that a high-pressur defense from the opposition is kind of what Liverpool want to see. Theoretically, this should open spaces behind the initial front to exploit. Only Sterling could find it, because the other players just didn't complete enough passes or have a good enough touch to consistently punch through. That doesn't mean they didn't at all, but you feel there was more. That's ok too, let's see if we're still saying this in November or December.
-Obviously, the main highlight was Raheem Sterling's match. Consistently beating his man and making things happen, it's another performance that makes you wonder if a loan spell shouldn't be put aside to have him in a super sub role now. Yes, only Hearts, and a more talented fullback will take advantage of how raw he is. But that pace, touch, and confidence can still do a lot of damage.
-Jordan Henderson was once again forced in on the right, and once again led to a quiet match from him. His best moments came when he employed the high-pressure that Rodgers craves, dispossessing opponents on a few occasions. The goal came from him tucking in once again and leaving an acre for Martin Kelly to pour into. But that tucking in and the unfamiliarity of being a "forward" left Borini with no support on his right and keeping Liverpool lopsided. You can't blame Hendo, he's a midfielder and will instinctively drift to where he's more comfortable.
-Maybe Hendo's indifferent performance out wide partly stem from watching Adam in the middle and just being in shock he can't get picked there ahead of that dumpster fire.
-The two young fullbacks did well, and I'd like to see some more spots picked carefully for Robinson. Don't want him to get exposed but still I'd like to see if he can fulfill a role. Also, I'm not opposed to seeing more of Downing at LB against the right opposition. If the fullbacks are under instruction to bomb forward anyway, maybe getting more space for Downing is the trick. You wouldn't want to see it against an actual breathing winger, but it's worth an experiment if no one else is coming to the club.
-Notice everything calmed down upon Allen's introduction? That's encouraging.
-It's been only two matches, so no conclusions, but so far it's pretty clear Borini is more comfortable supporting a central striker than being one. We know Rodgers prefers clever and quick, but at some point your forward has to hold the ball, which Suarez is better at than he gets credit for. Still, worked hard and had a part in the goal. Sort of.
-Did I mention Charlie Adam sucks? The last chance Hearts had was the result of him running away from a clearing pass from Agger for him and leaving it to a Hearts player. You can't write this shit.
It's a good result. Let's focus on that. Important players were rested for Sunday without losing a place in a competition. That's also good. Player ratings tomorrow.