July 28, 1970
The secret plans which Bill Shankly has been making during the long close season will be revealed this week when, first, he names his party for the first of the pre-season friendlies and, later, when he names his side to play the League of Ireland. For throughout the long summer months Shankly has been adding the final details to his blueprint for the future – a future in which he plans to rebuild the Liverpool side into an even more formidable force than it was in the trophy-winning years of the mid-60’s.
Shankly is expected to name a 14-strong party for the Dublin trip and almost certainly some familiar names will be conspicuous by their absence. Attention will focus most on Jack Whitham, the £60,000 striker from Sheffield Wednesday, who has yet to don the red shirt. The question is whether Whitham can be Liverpool’s new Roger Hunt – a goal-scorer supreme who can apply the finishing touch to Liverpool’s innumerable attacks.
Yet as the transition period between one team and the next reaches its climax there are other points in the line-up that will be interesting. Which trios will form the midfield and the front runners? Will there be a place for club captain Ron Yeats, the backbone of the side in its glory years but now displaced at centre half by young Larry Lloyd?
I think there is a place for Yeats. And almost certainly it will be at left back now that Peter Wall has been sold to Crystal Palace. The height, strength and experience of Yeats will be invaluable to Lloyd as he continues to settle in to such a vital position, while Chris Lawler and Tommy Smith virtually pick themselves in the back four.
Two men are almost equally certain to form part of the midfield – Emlyn Hughes and Ian Callaghan. The third man, however, could well be Bobby Graham, easily the team’s leading scorer last season with 20 goals. Graham has played in midfield many times in the past and has done a good job, and I think Shankly could well try to bring out yet another facet of the play of this versatile man.
This would leave Whitham, Peter Thompson and, probably, Alun Evans to share the burden of goal-scoring as the three front-line attackers. If that, in fact, is Shankly’s plan then it could well mark the end for such stalwarts as Ian St. John, Tommy Lawrence and Geoff Strong.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: July 28, 1970; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited