April 20, 1907
The Liverpool team have given two further examples of how not to do it within the past week. Bristol City and Middlesbrough have each been entertained and, like so many others, have found New Anfield a happy hunting ground.
The pasturage has appealed wonderfully to Liverpool’s visitors this season. Neither Bristol nor Middlesbrough had previously got so much as a nibble on the old turf; nor had Manchester United. Yet all three, during April, have done capitally there.
We usually look upon this month as the time of refreshing showers. Out Anfield way it has been a period of unmistakable drought. Four home matches have been decided. Result, three defeats, and one victory – over Derby County.
Liverpool have not experienced such a disastrous home season since the club’s formation – not even in their lowliest First League years, when relegation do Division II was the sequel. It gave one a shock on Monday to note that the Reds had lost one more home match than any other of their First Division rivals, but I never anticipated the number would be still further increased on Wednesday evening!
It seems incredible that the club which a year ago would up gallant League champions should, with practically the same team, so quickly go to pieces. And it seems equally incredible that the men who could run up such a big score against Preston, Manchester City, the Villa, and Notts a few months ago should have gone so awry subsequently.
Of the 18 matches decided at Anfield, eight have been lost, and three of these within the last three weeks to clubs with nothing desperate to strive for.
Mr. Tom Watson’s Prophetic Mantle, Wages and Profit Sharing.
This morning Liverpool had 32 points with two games in hand. Thus it is only by a mere hairsbreadth that they have cleared the danger zone, and once more the fact is forced home upon one that Mr. Tom Watson is a true prophet. “Liverpool,” he said, some time ago, “always seems to be either at the top or the bottom.”
The Liverpool Secretary had expressed a hope that at least a middle position might be granted them. But no; the players seems jealous in their guardianship of his prophetic mantle. I have heard the opinion expressed that we should not see such mediocre, vacillating work as Liverpool have shown us of late, had there been no maximum wage rule keeping all men on a deadly level, or had there been an inspiriting bonus at the end of a match well won.
But this is really a poor excuse for the quality of football which Liverpool, as a team, have served up of late. Candidly I don’t like the maximum wage rule, nor do I like the bonus system. The word “bonus” as applied to football sounds hideous. Call it something else – profit-sharing if you like!
Personally I should like to see the introduction of some such scheme as that adopted by the Yorkshire County Cricket Committee – a system of merit marks both for individual and collective performances, there to be aggregated at the end of the season, and the men then to receive the cash awards accruing from same. Still, one cannot understand £4-per-week men failing to give their very best or approximating thereto in an ordinary everyday League match.
The worst feature of Liverpool’s recent deterioration is that the club suffers, and not the players. It has choked off public patronage, and the funds in consequence have been starved just when they required feeding, in view of the heavy expenses incurred in the ground improvement scheme.
Spion Kop in all its bareness has stood up in silent protest to the players in recent games. It has been like a big uninhabited hill. Just as the necessary increased accommodation has reared its head, it seems cruel that the players should suddenly go and bury their powers. A rousing victory over Sheffield United next Saturday, and a still more cheering win against their Everton neighbours in the local Cup Final two days later would go a long way towards restoring the confidence and admiration of Liverpool’s supporters.
I don’t intend so say much about the 4-2 defeats sustained against Bristol and Middlesbrough. On the face of things the Reds’ defence has been more to blame than their attack of late. Sam Raybould had also a poor day, and Robert Blanthorne disappointed those who hoped he would shine.
(Cricket and Football Field: April 20, 1907)