Don Revie analyzes Liverpool

Don Revie was determined to do everything in his power to guarantee a good start to life in the First Division, and the Liverpool side was one of the first to be dissected in the dossiers that were soon to become so infamous.

Liverpool's performance in the Charity Shield encounter with West Ham was analysed thus by Don Revie:

"Liverpool took the field first and proceeded towards the Spion Kop end. This being the end they prefer to defend in the first half, an advantage may be gained by getting out first when we play there. Use the right-hand goal for warm-up and should we win the toss elect to stay as you are at K.O. Shankly has devised his team tactics to cover some deficiencies in his playing strength. Both full-backs lack pace and our wingers must seek the ball behind them. Liverpool depend a great deal on centre-half Yeats, who sticks like glue to the centre-forward and clears his lines decisively at all times. In this game both wing half-backs played a very stereotyped game and should one go on attack, the other stays back, even when an opportunity may arise to move with ease into a position to change the point of attack. The majority of Milne's service goes towards outside-right, Callaghan, and usually consists of a short crisp pass.

"The forward line missed the constructive ability of St John, and his deputy Arrowsmith was carried off the field after ten minutes, with a twisted knee. Hunt moved to centre-forward, but was unable to free himself from the close attention of West Ham's Brown. Chisnall substituted for Arrowsmith but on this display lacked the sharpness and guile to be creative. Wallace at I-R was aggressive and grafted throughout, always on the look out to shoot when half-chance arose.

"The Liverpool defence play square with both full-backs endeavouring to keep close to the wingers even when a strike is made through the inside positions. It was noticeable that West Ham's inside-left, Hurst, was on to a number of balls behind the Liverpool right-back in the first fifteen minutes and I could not figure out why this approach was not sustained because it proved highly dangerous in the early period.

"Balls into this area will probably be more productive because of the two wing half-backs. Right-half Milne tends to advance more than Stevenson. It was Yeats who was having to move out to challenge Hurst on most occasions.

"After this early period I consider West Ham played to Liverpool's advantage by building up attacks slowly, and neither Sissons nor Brabrook would seek the ball behind the full-backs or attempt to run without it to enable colleagues from behind to carry the ball into an attacking position. Once West Ham had gained possession Bobby Moore, playing in a position between C-H and L-B, was usually served with the ball by his colleagues, to distribute elsewhere.

"Thompson at O-L, has speed and ball control, and invariably takes on anybody in line with his striking runs. I feel there are times when he had the chance to cross balls from the wing but even so he elected to take on his opponent to get in on goal. Thompson tends to go inside or across the front of his full-back because he favours his right foot.

"The cross-over was operated on the right wing a number of times. Callaghan already in the corner, coming out to take over the ball from the man carrying the ball in his direction. Callaghan then proceeds to strike through the I-R position towards goal, but he has difficulty in this situation because it demands using his left foot with the L-B running in close proximity.

"It was in such a situation that left-back G. Byrne scored with a thirty-yard left-foot shot. Callaghan was forced to pull out of a run, turned the ball back in Byrne's direction, whose shot went across Standen inside the far post.

"Wallace's goal was due to a mistake by Moore, who allowed a slow moving ball to pass under his boot to Liverpool's I-R, whose first-time right-foot shot hit the far post before crossing the line.

"West Ham's two goals resulted from practices we have done on numerous occasions, e.g. forward coming off for ball to feet, and laying it to R-H, who hits forty-yard ball through I-L position to advancing forward running through defence, who helped ball into net as keeper advanced.

"Second goal: Hurst followed in a hard-driven ball from Brabrook who shot with his left foot from I-R position. Lawrence palms ball. Hurst nets from four yards. This incidentally was the only shot West Ham had at goal in the second half.

"Yeats came into the area for corner kicks, taking up a very wide position to enable himself to have room to adjust in relation to the kick. At free kicks for them, Liverpool had players moving around in different directions seeking to lose defenders in an effort to enable the two players on the ball to select 'what's on'."


The anorakish level of detail in the report appealed deeply to Revie, with his obsessive concern for leaving nothing to chance. He wanted his inexperienced players to be thoroughly prepared for each and every game and insisted on them rehearsing tactics to nullify their opponents' strengths. In the years to come, the over cautious approach would become the scapegoat for many of United's failures, but in this first season in Division One the attention to detail proved invaluable for Revie's hopes.

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