Above Us Only Sky: Liverpool FC's Global Revolution by Paul Tomkins

By Paul Tomkins

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But seeing as it’s difficult to create a team with that much natural ability, pace becomes an issue. It’s just impossible to say how much of an issue; how long is a piece of string? Not every great striker has pace, but would Ian Rush have scored as many goals without it? Almost certainly not. He was a lethal finisher, but so many of his chances relied on getting onto the end of a Dalglish master-pass. The best defenders can often get the better of quick strikers with positioning and reading of the situation; but once Thierry Henry is away from the last man there is nothing that defender can physically do to stop him without the aid of a lasso.

But of course, how many goals you need to score depends very much on how many you concede. And given that Benítez has pretty much mastered the defensive side of Liverpool’s play, it shouldn’t require as many as 83 goals to land the title. As long, of course, as the defensive solidity is not compromised in the process of adding more goals to the team. And that’s the toughest task. Anyone can find a player who’ll at least score a few goals from midfield, but if they don’t work for the team it can all so easily fall apart at the other end.

Long gone are the days of settled sides and 14 players featuring all season long. And of course, rotation is only mentioned after defeats, never after long runs of victories. Benítez was criticised during 2006/07 for having named his 99th consecutive altered line-up, but none of the critics bothered to check that he’d actually won a stunning percentage of those 99 games. Obviously everyone knows Benítez rotates more than anyone else? ) It’s a known fact, right? Except, of course, it’s not true.

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