The 17-year-old winger got to work on the lengthy process of restoring the stadium’s aura, sprinkling his stardust with a zesty performance and his first competitive goal.
In finding the winner in a 1-0 victory, he became second only to Michael Owen
There are two restoration projects now under way at Anfield. Brendan Rodgers’s plans for Liverpool are much clearer than those entrusted with giving the stadium a makeover, although both facelifts will be time-consuming.
As a club, Liverpool still talk too much about the past, but in Rodgers at least they have someone who is obsessing about the future. Sterling has now become an emblem of what might be.
Publicly, Rodgers takes a paternal tone with Sterling. Privately, as the somewhat undermining behind-the-scenes documentary currently on air keeps showing us, there is some tough love going on to keep the youngster advancing at pace in a straight line.
“It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, nobody in this world responds to being beaten with a stick. I will offer the players the carrot,” Rodgers said.
“Raheem likes to hear it direct and I deal with him the best way I can to make him perform to the level.
“He has been a revelation. His mentality is really strong. Nothing fazes him and he doesn’t waste his time doing stupid things.
“He has still a long way to go. We want him to be a legend here for the next 10 years and not to get carried away with the adulation so that by the time he is 21 everyone wants him out.
"We want him to maintain his hunger and then he can become a top player.”
For all the aspirational talk, both football and stadium related, there has not been enough detail to match the unrelenting statements of intent.
The polishing of Anfield’s status must first begin on the pitch and even though there was again plenty to admire in a performance deserving of more than a single goal, it remains unclear if Rodgers’s inaugural season will be of mid-table toil or a top-six challenge.
Liverpool are clearly capable of more than the current position suggests, but have too many imperfections lingering from previous seasons.
Apart from the result, this was more of the same. Good in parts, worryingly wasteful in others and apprehensive to the point of incapacitation in the closing stages.
There is encouragement to be found if you look closely enough, not least in Sterling’s rapid improvement and Luis Suárez’s vivacious capacity to ensure his footprints are left at the scene of every Liverpool attack.
The game’s outstanding performances – teenage full-back Andre Wisdom made it a trio – combined for the only goal. Wisdom’s header, Suárez’s pass and Sterling’s finish secured the points in the 29th minute, although the margin should have been extended before a late Reading rally.
Sterling was the matchwinner, but Suárez continues to be the leading man in every Anfield drama. If the South American possessed the natural finishing power of a Fowler, Owen or Rush, his goal ratio would match that of Lionel Messi.
It is unfortunate for Suárez his lack of ruthlessness has coincided with an era when so few of his colleagues look capable of getting in the box, let alone scoring.
Suárez’s ratio of fouls to free-kicks is equally unimpressive. There was a moment of comedy when Anfield erupted to acclaim two decisions which went in Suárez’s favour.
The focus on the striker’s willingness to acquaint himself with the Anfield turf should not disguise the fact that it often needs a tug of the shirt, a stud on his ankle and a kick on his thigh before a referee reluctantly accepts he may have to blow his whistle.
“I must admit I had a laugh at the crowd’s reaction. It was a funny moment. I think I joined in,” Rodgers said.
Brian McDermott would have had the last laugh if Brad Jones’s save from Garath McCleary did not end a recent trend where one decent chance for Liverpool’s opponents usually leads to a goal. It all amounted to that rare modern occurrence – a ‘routine home win’ at Anfield.
Anfield’s long wait
Liverpool recorded their first home league victory of the season on Saturday – at the fifth time of asking, after Brendan Rodgers’s side drew twice and lost twice at Anfield. The club have endured the same fate on two other occasions, having to wait for their fifth home game before winning in the 1894-95 and 1911-12 campaigns.