May 7, 1928
Manchester United’s biggest scoring achievement of the season was under League auspices was the result of their assimilation of a truth that has been hurled at them all the season – the vital importance of keeping the ball down. They have learnt this lesson so well that they had the issue safe some time before the interval in the game with Liverpool, played before 31,000 spectators, who knowing how near the United were to relegation, were almost silent until the first goal was scored.
The tension was quickly dispelled, and the second half was largely colourless. Only against Huddersfield Town had I seen the United forwards play anything like so sturdily. All of them shared in the scoring, which by no means represents the amount of shooting they did during the first half. Spence, Rawlings 2, Hodgson, and Spence in that order scored in the first half, and Spence and Hanson scored at either end of the second half.
A neglected principle.
Few teams expended more energy in the season 1927-28 than the United, who would have earned more than nine points on tour if they had observed earlier the first principle of team work – passing the ball on the floor instead of in the air. The loss of Barson’s services for all but one of the last 38 games is the reason officially given for the team’s inability of playing smoothly-ordered football of the type which carried them so easily to victory in the last match, but the others cannot be absolved so easily. Impetuosity in “getting rid” of the ball instead of placing it carefully has been a chronic fault. The defence has done its work splendidly, and altogether has been the backbone of the side, while the influence of Mann, in spite of his limitations as a constructive half-back, has been an inspiration to the team, especially recently. Hanson and Spence, together with Johnston and Rawlings, have been the best of the forwards, with Spence and easy first as marksman with 34 League goals.
Considering the substantial support accorded the Liverpool club results have been disappointing. It has been apparent for some time that forward play as not approached the level that carried the club though its championship seasons, and it is strange that capable exponents have not been secured to duplicate positions. Much extra strain has fallen on the defence, which has served the club wonderfully well for many seasons, and never more successfully than in the campaign now at its close. Though the forwards have been well among the goals, the quality of foot-craft has not been good, sheer persistency and fighting spirit being the main feature of their play.
Manchester United: Alf Steward, Charlie Moore, Tom Jones, Hugh McLenahan, Frank Mann, John Wilson, Joseph Spence, Jim Hanson, Bill Rawlings, Billy Johnston, Harry Thomas.
Liverpool: Arthur Riley, James Jackson, Donald Mackinlay, David McMullan, Neil McBain, Tom Bromilow, Dick Edmed, Gordon Hodgson, Bill Murray, Harry Race, Fred Hopkin.
Referee: Mr. E. Pinckston, Birmingham.
(Source: Athletic News: May 7, 1928)