January 3, 1970
Anfield, it seems, is just not the same any more. No longer is it bulging at the seams with the “ground full” notices outside – there hasn’t been a capacity crowd this season. And no longer does a game at Anfield mean two points automatically for Liverpool.
Already this season Liverpool have dropped eight points at Anfield. The total for both the last two seasons is only 12. Yet the power of Liverpool’s attacking does not seem to have waned much.
So what is the cause of the great points drain? It seems that the rest of the First Division has cottoned on to the fact that a solid defensive curtain is a good stepping stone to a point. In some cases this season, it has been only at the last gasp that Liverpool have broken a stalemate to snatch victory.
And it seems the fans are getting the message, too. Two seasons ago, only three League games before Christmas attracted gates of fewer than 50,000. Last season, Liverpool didn’t have an attendance for a League game under 40,000. This season, however, twice the attendance has been under 40,000 – and only twice has it reached more than 50,000. Even Manchester United, great crowd-pullers everywhere drew only 47,000 to Anfield. In the past this has been an all-ticket match.
And with Liverpool’s title hopes rapidly vanishing, there seems little likelihood of an immediate improvement. The fact is that Liverpool play far better away from home – and their results prove it.
The reasoning is not difficult. At Anfield, the onus is on Liverpool to do the attacking, The tactics of the opposition are usually defensive, by intention – and even when they are not, they have to defend in depth because of Liverpool’s insistence on an attacking bombardment.
Thus Liverpool find little or no room in which to manoeuvre for openings, and produce match-winning goals. Away, however, it is a different story. The onus for the attacking is shifted to the home side. Liverpool can choose their own tactics, which are usually to contain and weigh up, their opposition for some 20 minutes … and then move forward themselves.
It was this that brought them victories of Tottenham, Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Everton, and Burnley.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: January 3, 1970; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited