Liverpool by the Numbers – 1985-86
By Simon Treanor
Denis has written at length about the idiosyncratic numbering system that Liverpool adopted during their glory years. The numbering system evolved over the years, due to player turnover and positional changes, settling down to the system used in the 1989-90 season – see the intro to the series for an illustration.
The subject combines a lot of my interests: the era is particularly evocative for me, as it is for many Liverpool fans past a certain age: it was the last hurrah before Liverpool’s dominant period ended, and of course, for a long time, it was the last title. It’s a period of glorious adidas kits, one of the best forward lines in the club’s history, amazing performances and dramatic defeats, plus, of course, the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough.
Add the numbering became more settled, paradoxically, it became more varied. Before the days of 25-man squads, the Liverpool of the first Dalglish era achieved squad depth through versatility – players like Nicol, Staunton and Venison could be deployed in a number of positions, and while some players – Nicol included – had consistent numbers, others would fit in wherever necessary, with the result that many defenders would complete the set of attacking numbers (7 to 11).
This series will focus on the years 1985-1993, the from the beginning of the Dalglish era to the introduction of squad numbers. It’s begins with Heysel – the end of Fagan’s reign, and ends at the opening match of the 1993-94 season, where squad numbers were first employed. The period takes in while, yellow, grey and green away kits, the transitions from the trefoil and Dalglish to Souness and EQT, the ban from, and return to, Europe, and a degree of tactical flexibility that is often forgotten. It encompasses Phil Neal, Alan Kennedy, Robbie Fowler and Stig Inge Bjornebye, and takes in a number of transfers – successful and unsuccessful – along the way, as well as a few players who were at Anfield for the duration. Players’ positions are based on footage and match reports where available, and have been inferred where we’ve been unable to find specific information – if you have any corrections, do let us know.
As before, click through the fixtures to see the alterations to the line-ups. In-game changes, either substitutions, dismissals or injuries are also shown: changes that happen simultaneously, e.g. a double substitution, are shown together.
On mobile devices, pinch zoom to display the whole pitch.
Liverpool 85/86 - match by match
- 1st change(s)
- 2nd change(s)
- 3rd change(s)
- Next match