December 22, 1981
Kenny Dalglish’s new role as maker rather than taker of chances was confirmed last night when manager Bob Paisley officially announced that the crack Scot would play behind Ian Rush and Craig Johnston in tonight’s friendly with Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox.
However, when Liverpool set out by coach this morning, it was still not clear which members of 13-strong squad would be omitted at the start. On the face of it, Alan Kennedy and Sammy Lee look the most likely to stand down, but there could be other causalities instead as the Liverpool chief seek to get his side’s balance right in time for the more serious challenges that lie ahead.
Ronnie Whelan, who yesterday became the first Irishman and the first Liverpool player to win a national “Young Player of the Month Award”, has already been named as Ray Kennedy’s replacement.
That means one midfield man must make way for Dalglish, and though Lee might seem the obvious candidate, Terry McDermott’s place could be equally in danger. McDermott had been making fewer of his famous runs of late, and with Johnston, Whelan and Rush all there to give mobility, it may be that Mr. Paisley will prefer to keep the hard running battler Lee in the side to ensure adequate possession.
And remember, it was the England midfielder, not the former under-21 skipper, who came off when Liverpool tried out their new 4-3-3 formation in Tokio.
Equally intriguing is the situation in defence. Mark Lawrenson has always looked a class performer, but he has been twice as effective when played in the middle, and on occasions has seemed like a fish out of water at full-back.
Many watchers have a feeling Liverpool might be most effective with Lawrenson in his favourite position and European Cup goal hero Alan Kennedy restored at left back – even that would mean leaving out one of two outstanding figures in Phil Thompson or Alan Hansen.
Liverpool’s extra-curricular matches have sometimes been more significant than their routine League games. The Flamengo match saw Craig Johnston make his first full appearance as a striker, and before that the friendly in Ireland gave us a first view of Steve Nicol at full-back and a glimpse of Ronnie Whelan and Kevin Sheedy both playing in midfield.
It would not be surprising if to-night’s friendly proved equally important and set the pattern for the Christmas matches as well as the series of big Cup-ties in the New Year. Results may not always be as good as supporters would wish, but if a new, dynamic side is remodelled by the end of the season few people will complain – particularly if a couple of trophies just happen to be acquired as well!
In fact, the Rangers game could hardly have come at a better time, for like most other clubs Liverpool are anxious not to lose their tythem by remaining idle for long.
Liverpool (from): Bruce Grobbelaar, Phil Neal, Alan Hansen, Phil Thompson, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Kennedy, Sammy Lee, Terry McDermott, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Ronnie Whelan, Craig Johnston, Ian Rush.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: December 22, 1981; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited