Liverpool hope for power surge
Liverpool's great European nights at Anfield can - according to managing director Christian Purslow - supply him with a surge of energy on a par with being plugged into the National Grid. This was not one of them.
The particular occasion Purslow had in mind was the 2005 Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, so comparisons with an opening group game against Debrecen, Hungary's first representatives in this phase for 14 years, are unfair.
This was more power cut than power surge. Even Anfield itself was lacking its usual electricity, with the rare sight of empty seats and a wave of supreme indifference sweeping around Liverpool's supporters at the final whistle.
And yet, for all the failings of a disjointed performance, this was a satisfactory end to a satisfactory week for Liverpool, with Purslow rightly proclaiming the benefits of a new £80m shirt sponsorship deal with investment bank Standard Chartered.
As with Chelsea on Tuesday, the currency that counts at this stage of the Champions League is points not performances. Liverpool's subdued display will not be recalled if they reach the knockout phase, which they surely will.
Dirk Kuyt scores Liverpool's winner against Debrecen
A win was what was required to round off a spell where they have reasserted a measure of authority on the pitch with victories over Bolton, Burnley and now Debrecen and flexed muscle off the pitch with the new shirt deal and a positive blizzard of statements of intent.
Of course, when Purslow delivers messages along the lines of: "We're Liverpool. We're not interested in being second best" he is pitching to fans who feel lines of trust have been broken with American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
And when he adds: "I'm not embarrassed to say we are Liverpool Football Club - the most famous football club in the world" then there may be some who might mischievously suggest that one is aimed in the direction of Old Trafford.
It does not take a massive leap of the imagination to hear Sir Alex Ferguson's teeth grinding as some brave soul plucks up the courage to read those words to him.
Time will tell whether more actions will follow these bold statements. There is no bad news in signing such a lucrative deal, but Liverpool's fans will only feel the warm glow of Purslow's words when they see how much of Standard Bank's cash lands in Benitez's lap and how long it takes for foundations to be laid for a new stadium on Stanley Park.
The new deal is a promising starting point and there is a sense around Anfield that the club is finally moving forward again and that there is, although you should whisper this one, a semblance of normality returning after recent boardroom traumas.
It was against this backdrop that Liverpool's latest Champions League pursuit began. Benitez admits Liverpool's priority this season is the Premier League, but offer a proud son of Madrid a place in the final at the Bernabeu next May and he might just reconsider.
And the sight of Fernando Torres, the one-time icon of Atletico Madrid, strolling around the Anfield pitch cradling his baby daughter an hour after the final whistle while deep in conversation with another team-mate from the city Pepe Reina, was a reminder that there are special incentives at work in this tournament for Liverpool.
Liverpool fans mark their manager's 300th match in charge with a giant banner
It was hardly an auspicious start against the unknowns of Debrecen, whose delight at simply playing at Anfield was illustrated by members of the club's hierarchy cheering wildly when they won a corner - then producing cameras to record the moment for posterity.
And their spirits were helped by a Liverpool team who struggled for rhythm. Kuyt did well in the role Steven Gerrard has made his own just behind Torres. The captain dropped to a deeper role, but the sooner he is restored to riding shotgun with Torres the better as far as Liverpool are concerned.
Gerrard kept Lucas company in central midfield while Javier Mascherano remained on the bench. The Argentine's season has simply failed to get going and it is to be hoped, for his and Liverpool's sake, that this is a temporary blip and not leftovers from the blocking of a summer switch to Barcelona.
It does not take a long memory to recall that Liverpool have had their struggles in group games in the past before emerging as contenders in the closing stages of the Champions League.
This win, however scrappy, offers early security against the sort of anxiety they have suffered before escaping into the group stage. European giants such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid know the dangers Liverpool pose when that happens.
Not a night that will live long in the memory - but the first tentative steps on the road back to Madrid for Benitez.
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