April 6, 1907
The poverty of Liverpool’s forwards.
The period of fish and eggs has savoured neither of a fishing resort nor a poultry farm, so far as our Anfield friends are concerned. In best, Liverpool have been neither bright nor fresh, but rather flabby and flat.
It has been failure all along the line with them. Three games have been played, no goals have accrued, but five points and five goals stand forfeited to their opponents. Christmas, 1906, and Easter, 1907, have been twin-like in their results, for at both periods named Liverpool have set up exactly similar results.
The festive period did you say? It has indeed been a feast – with Liverpool showing marked hospitality!
We knew the Reds had neither a League Cup nor an English Cup left to fight for; but we did expect better things than this. When the Villa visited Anfield in November the Livers showed the Brums how to play football; but on Saturday the placings were: Villa, teachers; Liverpool, schoolboys.
The Reds in consequence were debited with their heaviest reverse of the season – a debit mark they have not infrequently left open for visits to the Villa ground. Of course, Billy Dunlop, Joe Hewitt, John Cox and William Macpherson were away; and it didn’t help matters when Tom Chorlton (most unlucky of players, or something else) missed his train. That is wasn’t Villa eight, Liverpool nil, was, I am told, due to Sam Hardy’s fine custodianship and Saul’s splendid back play.
I only trust Hardy’s recent overtime has not resulted in any suspicion of staleness for this afternoon. The visiting forwards were worse than moderate, and Jack Parkinson signalised his return to duty by evincing a marked lack of resource as pivot to and welder of his forward line.
Manchester United’s first Anfield victory.
Liverpool’s form against the Villa did not tend towards drawing a big gate for Monday’s home match with Manchester United, for I dare say a number of people went to see such as Billy Meredith and Harry Burgess, yet there was an audience approaching 25,000.
The crowd were not disappointed in one sense, for Liverpool were “expected” to show poor finishing powers in the light of what had gone directly before – at Goodison and Aston. And this is exactly what Sam Raybould & Co. did. Chances galore came to win them the match, had the Liverpool which trounced Woolwich and sundry others been on view.
They never genuinely looked like beating the business-like defence set up by Charlie Roberts, Harry Burgess, Dick Duckworth, and Harry Moger. Granted the latter, one and all, defended gallantly throughout the match, the occasions were numerous where Liverpool should have either scored or made much better scoring attempts than was the case.
On one occasion the ball only required blowing through, so to speak. But the puff of wind never came. Presumably the forward in this instance held his breath. But apart from this, the Livers’ plans of campaign were generally badly conceived and carried out, if carried out at all.
There was no change of tactics – not the slightest.
Burgess and Roberts knew what was coming as clearly as a motorist does who has been summoned for exceeding the speed limit. But my readers mustn’t run away with the idea that I am comparing those Liverpool forwards with lightning-like motorists.
The right wing was certainly less faulty than the left and centre, but almost throughout the piece of trapping of the ball by Liverpool forwards was annoying indeed; their distribution of the play and their endeavours to outwit the opposing defence were equally wanting; whilst as marksmen, they reminded one of the man who saw two balls, and persistently kicked at the wrong one.
The home defence was only moderate. Hardy was hard worked again, but his clearances were neither so clean nor pronounced as usual. But I give Saul a good word – his was a magnificent display of full-back play.
Manchester United were much the more business-like team in attack, especially after the interval. Meredith demonstrated that he is Meredith still. His humouring and nursing of the ball, his baffling resource when on the run, were ever in evidence, whilst his centres were real masterpieces of accuracy. And it is all done so easily that one simply looks on – and wonders.
Of Joe Williams, the tall Macclesfield lad, one has hopes as a future partner for W.M. George Wall did not get going quite as often as usual, but he is a grand man on a side – quick to think and act, with those nonplussing runs and dangerous shots or centres. Sandy Turnbull did a lot of surprisingly clever things after the interval, and is evidently by no means a spent force yet.
I liked the great effectiveness of Roberts, Duckworth, however, did nothing sensational, but indiarubber Burgess seems nearly as good as ever.
For Liverpool, John Carlin was a disappointment as substitute for Cox. Raybould was altogether too slow, and Joe Hewitt most unhappy all through, for Roberts was his master.
(Cricket and Football Field: April 6, 1907)