November 21, 1908
The case of Liverpool.
Turn we now to Liverpool, who on Saturday received a most useful lift in the shape of two points from Preston North End, this win carrying their total to 15 points for 14 matches, which is a point ahead of last year’s figures for the same number of matches.
The standard of play witnessed at Anfield on Saturday, however, left a good deal to be desired, and also some explaining away. Possibly the treacherous nature of the turf was detrimental to accuracy in passing and to footwork in general, for certain it was that big glaring mistakes were made on both sides. Yet under similar conditions the Everton v Chelsea match reached a high standard of excellence; and naturally we look for high salaried professionals to rise above any little disadvantage of “conditions” under which their games are played.
Of course there is a great deal in sympathy of tactics. If a man marries one beneath him in taste, character, etc., he will either be dragged down to his partner’s level, or else his good qualities will be there to stand out in embossed form; he will assert himself, as it were, and the comparison will be still more pronouncedly in his favour. He must needs do one of two things.
Well, Liverpool on Saturday simply dropped down to Preston’s level, and a poor level it happened to be for the nonce.
A re-awakening needed.
Candidly there is need for a re-awakening in the Anfield camp. They started the season in pulse-stirring fashion. There were evidence of power, ability, and a consuming desire to excel – and thus succeed. But of late the old fire has in part died out: the former power has been followed by weakness in some sections, alertness has had semi-sleepiness in its wake, and much of the early enthusiasm has apparently taken wings.
Against North End the Liverpool attack in particular was disappointing; the team has scored with fair consistency I admit, but not nearly so frequently as one would like.
Yet it is in their manner of attack that one has chief cause for complaint. The inside men as a whole lacked initiative on Saturday, also in cohesion, and in general elusiveness such as we expected to find, and had a right to expect. The wings, too, were frequently disappointing.
Time was when John Cox would have revelled on such turf, to leave his opponents toiling in the rear. We shall, I fear, no longer hear of Cox being mentioned in connection with Jack Sharp, Harry Makepeace, etc., when speedy footballers are talked about.
Of course, this is not altogether surprising when we recall Cox’s long and honourable career. But it would be a pleasing thing to find him in consequence of the causes cited, paying more attention to the exercise of extreme judgment. This is the best possible asset for a footballer, I care not whether he be one who is approaching the veterancy stage.
Then Arthur Goddard died away considerably after half-time on Saturday. Arthur has been rather tame of late, and we should all welcome the early return to power of this gentlemanly Association exponent.
These are strenuous days, and it is practically imperative that our League clubs should possess extreme wingers of great pace and much cleverness.
Is it time to experiment?
I hardly know what to say or think of the Reds inside forwards of a week ago. Jack Parkinson fed the right wing ably in the first stage, whilst Joe Hewitt got a splendid goal, and Robert Robinson plodded on – this just about exhausts all the good marks possible. I would that it were not so. With Ronald Orr’s return, the position will mend, but even then the situation is open to improvement. Perhaps the present men are themselves capable solving the problem, or perhaps Bertram Goode, Jim Harrop, or even Tom Chorlton might assist in doing so.
But the club’s supporters are anxious to see a speedy upward movement – they desire to see clever, skilful, pleasing football too. The half backs gave little cause for complaint against North End, and Maurice Parry in particular pleased everyone. Further in the rear, Percy Saul gave another “uneasy” display, however. The League’s Rutherfords and their Bonds somehow appear to get on Percy’s nerves and his game (as Billy Dunlop’s was wont to do) suffer in consequence.
But there is no reason why he should not come out full of pleasing effectiveness once again in the early future. The best method for keeping his place is to “keep his place” – not to wander among the half-backs.
(Cricket and Football Field: November 21, 1908)