Paisley's opinion on John Wark

How many times have you heard it said that goalscoring is all about being in 'the right place at the right time. Most footballers know where the right 'place' is, but relatively few can sense when the time is 'right'. John Wark has great timing. You could set your watch by him. Bobby Robson often uses an old expression to describe instinctive goal poachers. He calls them 'Johnnies on the Spot'. I'm sure he coined the phrase after watching Johnny Wark arrive 'on the spot' time after time during their days together at lpswich.

John is like a magicians apprentice in reverse. Instead of 'now you see him, now you don't.... it's now Wark is nowhere to be seen, now he’s scored!'. He has you wondering whether or not he has access to a secret network of tunnels under the pitch. He just pops up through a trap door beneath the penalty spot, leaving defenders looking at each other saying, 'where the heck did he come from?'

In 1980, Terry McDermott became the first Double Footballer of year. He scored 14 goals from midfield in an exciting season which saw us win the league and reach two Cup finals. John knocked in 27 in his first full season for us outscoring even Ian Rush but there were no trophies and no awards.

There are a lot of similarities between them. John has never had Terry's power of shot, anymore than Terry would have headed as many goals as John does. But the common denominator is a striker's goal return from a midfield position. In truth, if their scoring records were no better than average, you would not be getting your money's worth from them. Injuries have hampered John’s progress at Liverpool, but not as much as the changing of personnel and shape of the side. He is a perfect illustration of my constant theme about assembling a team of imperfect players who compliment each other perfectly. Unless he is surrounded by team mates who recognise his strenghts and cover for his weaknesses, his special goal scoring ability will go largely untapped. He needs to to be in the right place at the right time!

Copyright - Clive Tyldesley from his book "Bob Paisley's personal view of the First Team Squad of 1986-87".

Sir Bob quote

"I'm always amused how little people appreciate just how revolutionary a management Bob Paisley was! To dispense with the old fashioned centre-half (a position that had dominated English defending for 40 years), to build his central defensive partnerships around two wing-halves (Thompson, Smith, Hughes, Lawrenson, Hansen), and to have entrusted the mid-field screening job to a passer of the ball like Souness was a masterstroke!

It is a sad loss to the game that Bob didn't reveal his thoughts on the game to all and sundry. If only this man had been more vocal, he would have set in train a tactical revolution that would still influence the English game today! At a time when the English national side couldn't punch its weight internationally, and English self-esteem was at its lowest ebb, Bob Paisley managed to win three European Cups! That's greatness!"

Phil Ritson

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