Lambert getting into the rhythm
Published 18/08/2014 | 15:31
New striker Rickie Lambert believes Liverpool will quickly find their rhythm having got a first win on the board early.
A hard-fought 2-1 home victory over Southampton got Brendan Rodgers' side under way but it seemed a long way from the devastating performances which tore opponents to shreds last season.
Next up are Manchester City, who pipped them to the title in the final week, but Lambert believes the Reds will soon pick up the tempo.
"I don't think we played badly, I just don't think it was as fluid as Liverpool can play," said the England international, who made his debut against his former side with a late substitute appearance.
"But I thought the first goal (from Raheem Sterling) was excellent: a great pass from Jordan (Henderson) and a good finish and after some pressure from Southampton we came strong and got the win.
"It was a really hard game and it was a great three points. The first game is always nervous, you are never quite as sharp as you want to be.
"The first game everyone is excited and desperate to win and you are not sure how you are going to play and the quicker you can get that win the better.
"It makes you get into your rhythm a bit easier and faster.
"The win is perfect but we now have a few hard games coming up."
Like last season, when Simon Mignolet saved a last-minute penalty against Stoke to hold on to three points, it could have been so different had the goalkeeper not produced a brilliant late save from Morgan Schneiderlin.
"It was one of the best saves I've seen," added Lambert.
"It was definitely a goal and he's managed to push it on to the underside of the bar."
Lambert found himself in the unique position of being applauded by both sets of fans as he made his way onto the pitch with the 32-year-old former Reds trainee still warmly regarded by supporters of the club he served so well.
"It was strange to come on against your old team-mates. I haven't had many situations like that in may career but you have to be as professional as you can," he added.
"It was special from the Liverpool fans making my debut, which was a dream, and it was special from Southampton fans who showed a lot of respect and appreciation."
There was not the same appreciation from Dejan Lovren, another former Saint who made his Liverpool debut - the third, Adam Lallana is recovering from a knee injury.
The Croatian was booed throughout by fans who were unhappy with the way he handled his exit after just a season on the south coast but it did not appear to affect his performance.
"I thought Lovren was excellent," said Rodgers.
"It is always difficult when you play against your old team. If you have nine or 10 things to think about, when you play your old team you have 20.
"He is a real leader and he was excellent."
Southampton boss Ronald Koeman was equally happy with the performance of Schneiderlin, who has been angling for a move to Tottenham to be reunited with ex-Saints coach Mauricio Pochettino.
"I think it was good for him. He is player of Southampton and he will continue playing for Southampton," said the Dutchman.
"He changed his mind and mentality and he showed that this week.
"He showed his qualities and he is very strong for the team. It was normal for me to put him in the line up."