RARELY are you judged as severely as you are when facing an old club. And whilst Brendan Rodgers will have felt the glare of additional scrutiny before, during and after the game with Swansea City, there was someone else who was being watched that extra closely.
Joe Allen moved north from Swansea City with his manager as part of new dawn ready to bring Liverpool up to speed with the modern game and reinvigorate a tired side.
He came not only with the associations of Rodgers and the south Wales club, but too as the manager’s priority transfer of the summer, as well as the most expensive.
When supporters cried out for strikers, they got a midfielder with a reputation for keeping the ball, not hammering it into the net.
Yet, Liverpool fans were given reassurances and read the glowing reports.
But this has been part of the problem for some in accepting Allen.
In a week when Merseyside football was drowned in stats, it was perhaps more pertinent than ever to sweep away the numbers when looking at Allen.
Pass completion rates, possession stats and figures avalanche any discussion about the 22-year-old and have wrongly built him into this pristine, faultless and mechanical footballer.
It sets ridiculously high standards in the minds of some and leaves no room for error.
If Allen dare even lose the ball, then the knives are sharpened.
If Allen misplaces a pass, there are raised eyebrows.
Anything lower than a 95% pass completion rate and he has failed the exam.
Madness; but it feels like it can be that cut and dry with the young Welshman.
Critics say he does not influence games enough but surely he does exactly what the manager asks of him.
Perhaps only when Rodgers has Liverpool playing as he truly wants will Allen be accepted for the excellent player he is.
In the first half last night, Allen tried to keep Liverpool moving but found lethargy in front of him.
He was constantly on the move; looking, receiving, turning and passing, trying to give the Reds rhythm.
It must have felt like banging his head against a brick wall.
“Apart from Joe Allen,” came a caveat of Rodgers’ assessment of the weak first half display.
He was right.
“Joe was virtually playing on his own in the midfield during the first half,” he added.
With life in front of him after half-time, suddenly Allen looked more alive but the truth is he had been playing that well all game.
In fact, he has been playing that well since joining the club.