Liverpool, Aug 23: Manager Brendan Rodgers' Anfield regime began with the worst possible result away at the Hawthorns as Liverpool lost 3-0 against West Brom in their opening fixture of the new season.
The Reds style of play will be questioned under Rodgers, firstly for being very patient with the ball, secondly there was a lack of finishing ability and finally for losing the ball in their own half.
Possession, passing and quick recovery are Barcelona's style of play but Rodgers was successful to implement his plan with former club Swansea City. And now, he tries to introduce his philosophy at Anfield.
Replacing a legend Kenny Dalglish was a huge step ahead but Rodgers now has an even more difficult task of restoring faith in his players. They lacked spirit, energy, coordination and created very few chances to score.
A 4-3-3 attacking combination seemed perfect for Liverpool with new signing Fabio Borini on the left, striker Luis Suarez upfront while Stewart Downing started on the right. Captain and Talisman Steven Gerrard played in a more attacking role behind Suarez while 15 million-man Joe Allen and Lucas began as holding midfielders.
The Reds hardly touched the ball in the opening 5 minutes as Steve Clark's men dominated, but slowly and steadily Liverpool found their rhythm back but failed to take the early lead.
Their only inspiration was attacker Suarez who skipped past two defenders only to see his shot parried away by goalkeeper Ben Foster before the 15th minute. Liverpool continued in the same fashion but were clueless in front of goal.
On the other end, West Brom moved forward with more intention to score. Midfielder Yusuf Mulumbu's quick thinking and creative passing left defenders Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel confused.
Right-back Martin Kelly was not found in his position after making bursting runs forward while Glen Johnson did not make any impact on the left flank.
Surprisingly, captain Gerrard gave away possession more number times than any other player on the pitch, probably his worst performance in a Liverpool shirt. Former Swansea man Joe Allen was exciting to watch but had less support from his new teammates.
The first goal was spectacular from striker Zoltan Gera, chesting down the clearance from a corner and smashing a half volley shot past Pepe Reina, a start well deserved.
West Brom striker Shane Long kept Liverpool's back-four busy while making non-stop runs. Agger struggled to get back to position while Long was through, a slight push was enough to concede the first penalty. The Dane was rather harshly sent-off but Liverpool were lucky after Long tried to trick Reina, missing the spot-kick with a powerless shot.
Agger's partner in defence Skrtel was absent minded when Long, yet again, stole the ball. The Slovak clipped Long's boots inside the area resulting in the second penalty which was then slotted home by forward Peter Odemwingie to give West Brom a two-goal lead.
Liverpool's hopes of coming back into the game were completely dashed as West Brom pushed forward to add more misery to their 10-man opponents. On loan from Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku scored the easiest goal of the evening, heading in from close range after Liverpool failed to clear.
Striker Andy Carroll came in during the later stages but failed to make an immediate impact. Liverpool were probably lucky not to concede more goals thanks to Reina's brilliant saves.
Only positives for Rodgers would be Suarez's killer instinct, the Uruguayan came close to scoring twice while Borini had a decent game in the second half on the right-hand side. Downing failed yet again, the winger couldn't provide teasing crosses or cut inside the West Brom back-line.
Rodgers and Liverpool need more signing to survive in the top-four or at least better their last season's performance. Conceding two penalties and a red card can be called unlucky but West Brom deserved the three points.
Agger's suspension means veteran Jamie Carragher will take his place in the back four. However, Rodgers will be pleased after Skrtel signed a new long term deal to stay with Liverpool. But what Liverpool need is more striking options as they cannot rely on Suarez alone while Fabio Borini needs more match-time to adjust with Premier League football.
Carroll, midfielder Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson look set to be benched or transferred before the transfer season ends.
Rodgers has to rethink about his philosophy as Kop fans are used to watching the Reds play more attacking football.