The 1946-47 League Champions
Bob Paisley is without doubt the greatest manager in the history of English,if not,world football on this page you will find a short history of the great man.I've also included a few articles from Fans!
Some of the text below is from Stephen F. Kelly’s “History of Liverpool” Posted on RAWK by Nigel Morrison(nidgemo)
year old Geordie Bob Paisley joined Liverpool Football Club from the amateur cup
winning side Bishop Auckland in 1939, played a few games in the war years
(during which he served King and Country fighting the Nazis) and then
established himself in the championship winning side of 1946-47. In all Paisley
made 278 appearances for Liverpool as a player and on retiring from his playing
career, was offered employment in the backroom staff of the club.
In 1959, having served as a member of the coaching staff Bob Paisley was considered for the vacant Liverpool Managers post that was to be appointed to Bill Shankly, however Shankly, throughout his reign as Liverpool manager, retained Bob as his assistant manager.
Bob remained in that post throughout the Shankly years, winning 2 FA Cups, one UEFA Cup, 4 Charity Shields, and 3 league titles.
When Bill Shankly decided to retire at the top in July 1974, Bob Paisley was the obvious choice to succeed Shankly and was therefore promoted to manager after thirty five years serving the club.
Under enormous pressure from the press, the supporters, the players and the board to continue the success the club had enjoyed under Shankly, Bob began his managerial career going seven games before his first defeat, and bounced back from that defeat with an 11-0 victory which remains a record.
Bob also made his first signing as manager, and one which was to set a precedent of his acumen in spotting the finest football talent. The signing was a previously unheard of 23 year old defender from Northampton Town by the name of Phil Neal who cost just £60,000, but went on to captain his country, being capped by England 50 times and finished his playing career as the highest medal winner in the history of English soccer. Among the other players whose careers were guided by Paisley were later England manager Kevin Keegan, three players who went on to manage Liverpool in Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Phil Thompson and a host of other names recognisable the football world over such as Liverpool's highest ever goal scorer, Ian Rush and now TV pundit Alan Hansen.
By the following season Paisley’s confidence was growing. The quiet, almost shy avuncular figure at the helm had not really wanted the job in the first place but he was never one to shirk his duty.
Paisley’s managerial career continued with success after success, including becoming the first English born manager to lift, and then retain, the European Cup.
That first European Cup victory, in Rome in 1977, was of particular significance to Paisley. More than 30 years previously Bob Paisley had marched on Rome as an unknown private in the British Liberating force. Now he stood at the head of his own Red army of players and fans who had accompanied him in the triumphant return to Rome to capture the most prized club trophy in World football. That night Bob Paisley, now the most celebrated manager in world football, never even had a celebratory drink. “I just wanted to stay sober and savour the atmosphere” he recalled.
After six more hugely successful years, and a total of forty three years at anfield, Bob Paisley decided to retire as manager. He had given dedicated service as player, coach and manager and was rewarded with a directorship of the club. In his short nine year spell as Liverpool’s manager, he had become not only the most successful manager in the history of English Soccer but also the most successful in Europe, winning nineteen trophies : Three European Cups, six League Championships, three League Cups, one UEFA Cup, One European Super Cup and 5 Charity Shields, as well as being named manager of the year six times. Bob’s side were also runners up in major competitions six times during his spell in charge.
The team that Bob left to his successor, Joe Fagan, went on to complete a treble of League Championship, League Cup, and European Cup the following season with only one new signing the difference from the team Bob had built.
In the 1985-1986 Season Bob again returned to managerial duties, this time brought in as an experienced assistant manager for Liverpool’s new manager and a player Bob had brought to the club, Kenny Dalglish.
Kenny and Bob ended the season winning the League and FA Cup Double, a feat that had previously only been achieved twice that century, and Bob finally got his hands on the FA Cup, the only trophy that had eluded him during his long and distinguished career as player and manager.
Bob Paisley died in February 1996, aged 77, in a Liverpool nursing home.
He had served Liverpool Football Club in various roles for over 50 years from player, to coach, to manager and finally as a director, all the time with dignity, humour, politeness and love for the team and the people.
The record of Bob Paisley’s successes as a player and manager are detailed below.
WWII Service Medal
HONOURS AS PLAYER:
1 LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP 1946-47
1 FA CUP RUNNERS UP MEDAL 1949-50*
* Received an FA Cup runners-up medal although he did not play in the final against Arsenal. He scored Liverpool's first goal in their 2-0 semi-final defeat of Everton and Liverpool asked the FA to strike a special medal for him.
HONOURS AS MANAGER:
6 LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS 1975-76, 1976-77, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1981-82, 1982-83
3 EUROPEAN CUPS 1976-77, 1977-78, 1980-81
3 LEAGUE CUPS 1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83
1 UEFA CUP 1975-76
1 EUROPEAN SUPER CUP
5 CHARITY SHIELDS
1974, 1976, 1977 (shared), 1980, 1982
6 MANAGER OF THE YEAR AWARDS
1975-76, 1976-77, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1981-82, 1982-83
League Championship - 1974-75, 1977-78
FA Cup - 1976-77
League Cup - 1977-78
European Super Cup - 1978
World Club Championship - 1981
Bill Shankly was once asked what his ambition was at Liverpool Football Club. He replied “To make the people happy”
Bill Shankly did indeed make the people happy.
Bob Paisley made them even happier.
I ask you to please consider Bob Paisley for the award of a posthumous KBE for his loyalty and services to football in general and Liverpool Football Club in particular, and in recognition of the 25th anniversary of his being the first English manager to win the European Cup which takes place this summer.
|This article was written by Paul Tomkins and also taken from RAWK|
Bob Paisley - Possibly the Greatest Man to Ever Live
I was in Tenerife, almost five years ago to the day, when I heard the news. I was gob smacked. It felt like my own grandfather had died. As the saying goes, I remembered where I was when I heard the news: Bob Paisley had died.
Bob had been closer to mind than he had for a while, seeing as amongst my holiday reading was the newly-released hardback biography of Shanks by Stephen F Kelly, and so while I read about the most charismatic manager of all time, I was also reading about his indispensable sidekick, Bob Paisley, perhaps the brains behind the gusto. It was all the more weird reading about results on wet Wednesday evenings in the early sixties when lying in blazing Canary Island sunshine, and weirder still when I picked up a paper later one day that told of Bob’s death.
I knew Bob had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for some time, and it seemed especially cruel that someone who achieved so much should die of a disease that rots one’s memories away. Not for him the chance of growing old and weak with the one compensation of being able to look back on a truly remarkable life. That remarkable life was wiped from its very owner’s mind. A great man doesn’t deserve that. No one deserves that.
I don’t doubt that Bob was the greatest manager ever. When I hear all these current managers (such as Jim Jeffries and Walter Smith - i.e. Scots!) say that Alex Ferguson is the best ever manager, it makes me so angry. Alex Ferguson has spent fortunes in his time, and has six [now seven] championships and one European Cup as his major honours in fifteen years in the English game (yes, for all the hype and the knighthood, that still reads as just ONE European Cup, and okay, Ferguson had success at Aberdeen, but he has been a manager over three times as long as Bob was). Bob Paisley won six championships and THREE European Cups in NINE just years. The team Ferguson inherited was doing badly, granted, but please don’t tell me they were anything other than a sleeping giant, with lots of cash and players like Robson, Strachan, McGrath and Whiteside - not quite in our class, but not duffers either. It can’t be said that they were anything other than underachieving.
I even rate Bob above Shanks - I really do. Shanks is the reason we are all here now, and that is set in stone - he rebuilt us. But he did so with Bob Paisley at his side. So not only was Bob involved in our rebirth, he then took us that all important next stage - the stage where true greatness is achieved. And kept us there. The team Bob inherited had won the FA Cup in Shanks’ swansong in 1974, but in truth it wasn’t one of the best Liverpool sides (I’m going on what people generally believe - I was three years old at the time, and therefore not especially qualified to comment on it’s merits through first hand experience. I have of course seen lots of video footage of the 1970s teams, to give me some idea). A lot of the players that had been the cornerstones of the 1960s side had retired or moved on - St John, Yeats, Hunt. New players were in their place, although the likes of Ray Kennedy, bought to play up front, and Larry Lloyd at centre half, were not looking as good as their predecessors. One of Bob’s masterstrokes was turning Ray Kennedy, who looked like he had lost the fight for the job up front as a target man/battering ram, into a superb, skilful left-sided midfielder with a wonderful passing game. It’s the equivalent of Peter Reid deciding to turn Niall Quinn into a tricky winger (and no, that ain’t gonna happen). Bob took this team, changed it around, and bought new players, and made it his own. What Bob didn’t have, and what gets him overlooked in terms of accolades, was a larger than life personality. Shanks was a master with words about the game, whereas even his own players had difficulty in understanding exactly what Bob had to say. A good player was “whassisname” or “wadjamacallit”, and apparently everything was referred to either as the “gubbins” or the “doings”. Though his words were muddled, the message always got through, and was crystal clear.
Bob was similar to Gerard Houllier - both quiet, softly spoken men, but both hard as nails underneath. GH was ruthless in showing Paul Ince the door, but Paisley was faced with a more difficult expulsion. Ince was a prat who was causing GH problems behind the scenes, and therefore totally expendable. Bob had to show he meant business when, after retiring, Shanks would turn up at Melwood on a daily basis and watch training. All the players still called him ‘boss’, and Bob had to ask Shanks - in the nicest possible way - to stay away. He was in charge now, and that was the end of the matter. The last thing Bob needed was the massive presence of his predecessor looming large over him - it was hard enough following in his footsteps, without those footsteps still literally around him (It’ll be interesting to see how Ferguson’s successor does, given that Fergie will always be there in the background, ready to take the credit for whatever the new guy achieves, and no-doubt ready with an oversize oar to put in [or will he after all the recent turmoil at OT about his future? PT 7.6.2001]).
Then there were Bob’s dealings in the transfer market which were, to be truthful, nothing short of remarkable. Faced with the crisis of the exit of Kevin Keegan - a Liverpool legend - Bob goes out and signs Kenny Dalglish as his replacement: LFC’s greatest ever player (come on, you’re not arguing with that, surely? What do you mean you reckon I’m wrong here and it should be Ronny Rosenthal? Istvan Kozma?...). Bob went on record as saying he would have wanted both Keegan AND Dalglish, had he been presented with the option - but that would have just been plain unfair, and the other 21 clubs would have taken their ball away and sulked with “we don’t want to play anymore”. I love Mark Lawrenson’s story of when he met Bob Paisley to sign - he got into the car to find Bob sat there in his cardigan and slippers!
In this age of ‘flash’ we would do well to remember that Bob was about the bare necessities. Look at the players he bought: Dalglish, Hansen, Lawrenson, Nicol, Souness, Whelan, Rush, McDermott - just awesome talent, and nearly all of them the Football Writers Player of the Year or a runner-up at some stage. I know we didn’t rely on fancy tactics back then, but if you buy players as good as that - players who could think for themselves - then half the battle is already won. These days it is impossible to have a monopoly on talent like that, as back then you were picking from the British Isles, whereas now the world is a manager’s oyster. We have the home-grown Steven Gerrard as our heartbeat, but Arsenal have bought Patrik Viera, and he wouldn’t have been an option for these shores fifteen or twenty years ago. Bob had a smaller area to pick from. A lot of Ferguson’s credit is for the talent of home-grown players, and yet the likes of Cantona, Yorke, Stam, Schmiechel, Barthez, etc, are the reason United are/were successful - without Cantona and Schmiechel they would have not made the essential leap to Champions. So whilst Fergie bought well at times, he too had a wider group of players to choose from. Fergie’s buys weren’t picked up from obscurity. Ferguson’s buys were established internationals.
I’m not demeaning GH by the same measure, just saying that in1981 you picked players from these shores, and you had to unearth diamonds in the British lower leagues or in Ireland or Scotland (Whelan, Nicol, Rush, Lawrenson) rather than always cherry picking ready-made players. Spurs had Ardiles and Villa, but the influx of foreign talent was a dripping tap as opposed to the Niagara Falls of 2001.
But ignore all this - ignore the man’s achievements. Forget he was the best manager ever. That’s only half the story of Bob Paisley.
What I want to highlight first and foremost about Bob - what I want you all to remember - was that he was just a great man: an honest, fair man, who puts most current managers to shame. When I saw the awful loser and general moaner Alex Ferguson get knighted, and Bob with his three European trophies have nothing, it made me sick. So it’s Sir Bob, from now on. This was a man who went to Rome in 1977 to help us lift the European Cup for the first time, going back to the place he helped liberate in a tank at the end of the Second World War. How many modern managers can claim such noble feats outside of the game? [Addition: Ferguson even suggested this season that Bayern Munich didn’t deserve to win the trophy, and that United were disappointed, as they think they are the better team. Bayern topped both of their groups in the early rounds: Man U neither of theirs. Bayern then beat Man U - not once, but both home and away. Bayern then beat Real Madrid home and away. So it seems that to defeat the previous two competition winners so convincingly as well as winning their group stages - and the final itself, of course! - is not good enough. Man U, who have won the trophy as many times as Nottingham Forest, are of course the rightful heirs to the throne. How dare Bayern beat them to it? Would Bob have been so distastefully vulgar in defeat? PT 7.6.2001].
No great player or manager likes losing. All the greats hate losing - it’s what spurs them on, that avoidance of the sickening sinking feeling of collapse. But there’s this quality a true champion needs: humility. He needs to know when the better team won.
You have to remind people of Sir Bob, as people want to forget - after all, since the advent of the Premiership it seems that achievements in the game no longer exist if they pre-date 1992 (I read recently about how Andy Cole was one of the top scorers in the Premiership history, having reached 100 Premiership goals, and I thought how p*ssed off current players like Tony Cottee must be when overlooked, having scored bags of league goals when it was the plain old First Division - and I keep reading how we’ve never won the Premiership, as if the Premiership is anything other than the First Division with a flashy new name. Eighteen league titles, I don’t care what you want to call them other than that. Eighteen titles, six due to Sir Bob directly, and a good few more before and after his rein indirectly, such as when he helped out Bill; and, crucially, provided assistance for Kenny in the double winning season of 1985/6).
So in the end Bob himself forgot all he had achieved, and it is not right that the rest of football does the same. So please excuse me if I remind you all again in a few month’s time [hello! Is it that time already? 7.6.2001] - not because you will have forgotten, but in order that you may remind a few others, who perhaps support other teams, from whose minds he might have slipped. The Roma home tie is Bob Paisley Flag Day, and that’s great, that’s apt, but don’t stop there.
Right boys, get carving that bronze statue now. I want to see it right next to Shanks, out by the front of the Kop, so the two great men of our history are side by side once more, and so they can scare the living shit out of any opposing team who dare enter Anfield.
© Paul Tomkins.
|Shankly and Paisley|
Heres whatPeter(Evo)Etheringtonhas to say!
Let's start straight away by saying Bob didn't really want the job as Manager after Shanks resigned. The popular avuncular figure saw himself more as a physio (a job he had done very well for years) rather than management material. He was to prove himself, along with a lot of people, wrong during nine years of unparalleled success.
Things started off reasonably well for Bob. A good start to the season saw us head the table for a while, but then again so did the likes of Sheffield United and Carlisle United during that crazy season!
A tricky patch in November (no change there then) gave Bob's critics the chance to have a snipe. Maybe Bob didn't help himself at times though. A nice enough guy, Bob, but never really comfortable when facing the media. Where Shanks would court publicity Bob would shy away from it. Watching Bob in front of a TV camera would make you squirm in embarrassment for him. It was like being present at an argument between a married couple; no way out you just had to sit there and suffer 'til it was over!
Bob's first season ended in failure; we only finished second! The groundwork had been laid though for the majesty that was ahead of us. Bob had the knack, although he probably didn't know it when he was at first reticent of taking the job, of turning ordinary players into great ones, good ones into greats and greats into Kenny Dalglish! The previously unheard of Phil Neal was bought to fill a problematic full-back position. Terry McDermott, an average midfielder at Newcastle who must have thought the nearest he would get to Liverpool glory was swapping shirts with Phil Thompson after the Cup Final, was signed but made no immediate impact. Players who weren't quite up to the mark or had served us well but were now surplus to requirements were gradually phased out: Alec Lindsay, Brian Hall, Phil Boersma, Alan Waddle, Brian Kettle and Chris Lawler. A young, tough midfielder, Jimmy Case, was brought in for the last match of the '74-'75 season. Where had this gem emerged? South Liverpool for a fee of £10,000! Bob's greatest masterstrokes though were to lay before him.
Shanks had bought Ray Kennedy for a big fee from Arsenal the day before his departure. Big Razor hadn't exactly torn down any trees in his first eighteen months at Anfield until Bob saw something in him that nobody else had. Ray would make a great left midfield player. Would he? He had formed a brilliant strike partnership at Highbury with John Radford, which had helped Arsenal win the double in 1970- '71, but he hadn't cut the mustard so far at Anfield. "Trust me", said Bob. He was to be proved right. Razor's left foot could open a tin of beans!
A mad dog of a full-back, Joey Jones was signed from Wrexham but again struggled at first and was used only sparingly in the '75-'76 season. Terry Mac fell into the same bracket and his frustrations were to lead him to make a transfer request which thankfully for him and us was refused. Bob had great plans for him! Bob also saw something in a young lad, David Fairclough, that said, "Not quite good enough for a regular first team place but lethal as a substitute when a short, sharp burst is needed." Davy wasn't happy with his supersub tag but that's what he certainly was!
Bob's team, as distinct from Shanks', which he had inherited, was gradually taking shape. The players he was bringing in along with the now established nucleus of Clemence, Neal, Thompson, Hughes, Keegan, Heighway, Toshack and Callaghan were starting to look more than the part. In other words he was combining the great players left from the shankly era with his own men to form one master team. The League Championship and UEFA Cup were won in what after all was only Bob's second season. As a physio he made a bloody good manager! As a "trainer" he made a great tactician. Maybe even he didn't realise he was a coaching genius! Underneath the "Uncle Bob" façade he had a ruthless streak. Never frightened to discipline a player who had stepped out of line. Never frightened to drop a player who wasn't doing the business, no matter who they were! A banner at Molineux when we won the League summed it up: Q.P.R.: Quality from Paisley's Reds.
Bob's first European trophy, the UEFA Cup was brought to Anfield that season after two titanic games in the final against Bruges. Phil Neal had a nightmare in the first leg at Anfield, which we won 3-2 after being two goals down. Despite calls for Neal to be dropped for the second leg, Bob stuck with him. Phil had a storming game in Bruges, which was drawn 1-1.
The start of the following season saw the arrival of David Johnson from Ipswich. Dave was one of the best centre-forwards in the country at the time but like a lot of good players struggled to maintain a regular starting place at Anfield. Mad Dog Jones made the left-back position his own as Phil Neal was switched again to right-back by Bob with brilliant effect. Now Joey wasn't the best player in the world. He wasn't even the best player in his house! What he lacked in skill though he made up for in heart. He would have run round the world twice for Liverpool! Bob recognised this and the effect it had not only the crowd but on Joey's team mates too. Joey let wingers know he was there though. More than one ended up in the Paddock with the Kop roaring him on! Joey's clenched fist salute to the Kop was to become his trademark.
Meanwhile Bob had switched Terry Mac from a journeyman right midfielder into a central midfielder who could run "box to box" and support the strikers with lethal effect. With Ray Kennedy throwing his left foot bombs in and around the penalty area this made the most of Terry Mac's boundless energy. A bad injury to Phil Thompson curtailed his season. The "soon to be retired" Tommy Smith was drafted in to his place. John Toshack's days were numbered as his number of thigh injuries were gradually catching up with him. The League was won with a lot more ease than it had been the previous season. The Double was thwarted by Manchester United. Then came the glory that was Rome!
David Johnson's erratic form and a poor display in the Cup Final meant Ian Callaghan took his place in Rome. A midfielder for a striker? Negative? Not a bit of it! Bob's tactics paid off handsomely as we ran out 3-1 winners against BMG. Terry Mac's goal justified just why he was in the team. I don't think even Bob though would have claimed a tactical "assist" with Tommy Smith's goal! Keegan though, in his greatest ever display for Liverpool, was running Bertie Vogts and co ragged with his non-stop running and aggression, again part of Bob's tactical plan. Vogts in the end was so tired of Kevin running at him that he conceded the penalty, which sealed our first European Cup. Bob didn't touch a drop of alcohol that night as he said he wanted to savour the victory rather than have his brain befuddled. The same couldn't be said for the fans though, or the players for that matter!
Who would replace Keegan? That was the question on all Liverpool fans lips during the summer of '77. Maybe no one. Maybe Bob would just switch things round a bit. Kenny Dalglish? Who he? Oh yeah, scored a few goals for Celtic. Also took the mickey out of England, Ray Clemence in particular, on more than one occasion. Bit overpriced though maybe at a British club record fee of £440,000.
With Bob's help Kenny was to become the greatest player ever to pull on a Liverpool shirt. Arguably also the greatest British player ever. A letter in the Echo from a lady, who was a Celtic supporter said, "Kenny's smile will light up Anfield when he scores." Was she right or what?! Never much of a smile from Kenny at any other time but when he, or indeed any other Liverpool player scored, that smile could light up the Mersey, never mind Anfield!
Bob signed another young Jock from Partick Thistle. Apparently this lad was great at every sport. You name it he'd represented Scotland at some level: Football, cricket, basketball, volleyball. He could even have been a professional golfer. One of those annoying people who was good at everything. He did though have a penchant for running naked on Blackpool beach! Name? Alan "Jocky" Hansen.
"Jocky" played a number of games early in the season as replacement for the injured Emlyn Hughes and Phil Thompson. Bit gangly and wasn't a bad player but nothing special. Bob reluctantly waved Tosh off to Swansea, as the big Welshman's persistent injuries finally put paid to his Liverpool career. A depressing run of results in November (again) highlighted the need for a new central midfield player, as the ageing Cally wasn't quite doing it any more. A third round FA Cup defeat at Chelsea saw Bob take immediate action. Graeme Souness was signed from Middlesbrough.
Unlike a lot of players Souness took no time at all to settle in to life at Anfield. He became an almost instant hero with a stunning volleyed goal against Manchester United at Anfield, which won the BBC Goal of the Season award. A big bear of a man with the touch of a violinist he could hit a ball like it had been fired from a cannon. He was as mad as Rasputin in the tackle, very rarely coming out without the ball, and sometimes the man! He could also caress a ball with all the gentleness of Casanova seducing a young lover. In short the complete player. Bob had done it again!
With all hope of domestic glory gone it was off to Wembley to defend the European Cup. Ah well, you can't have everything. A freak injury had ruled out Tommy Smith so the young Scottish streaker was called up in his place. Not a trace of nerves from young Hansen. He looked the complete centre-half, as the Bruges forwards had no effect whatsoever. Further up the field the other two Scottish maestros were doing their bit. Souness played the sweetest of touches to Dalglish, which had "please score" written all over it. Kenny duly obliged by kidding Jensen, the Bruges goalie, that he was about to shoot. As Jensen dived Kenny lifted the ball ever so gently over him before disappearing over the advertising hoardings to celebrate in front of his adoring public. Bob, by bringing vital new players in, had masterminded his second European Cup success.
No cup successes the following season but the League statistics told their own story: 68 points. 85 goals scored. Only 16 conceded. In spite of the dearth of cups many people believe this to be Liverpool's best ever team. After all, League performance is the yardstick by which any team should be judged. David Johnson had responded to several kicks up the backside from Bob, finishing the season with 16 league goals, second only to Kenny who was five in front of him.
In defence the previously gawky Hansen had, by astute coaching, been turned into a top-class centre-half. His seemingly effortless command of the middle of defence belied a touch of steel reminiscent of another Scottish centre-half, "Rowdy" Yeats. Alongside him was the redoubtable, though coming to the end of his Liverpool days, Emlyn Hughes. Emlyn was Bob's captain and was everything on the pitch that Bob was off it. Bob though was grooming another captain to replace Crazy Horse in Phil Thompson. Phil tossed up with a sparrow for a pair of legs and an eagle for a nose, losing both times, but was like a vulture in the tackle!
A player had also replaced Joey Jones as equally unblessed in the marbles department. "Barney Rubble" by nickname and "Barney Rubble" by nature, Alan Kennedy was another of the "brick wall" school. Bob knew you didn't have to be a great player to play for the Reds. Liverpool had a great TEAM.
Season '79-'80 saw Bob sign Israeli international Avi Cohen from Maccabi Tel Aviv. Avi was of the Jewish faith. It was said at first that Avi would be unable to play on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. When Bob was asked how he felt about an experienced international being unable to play for Liverpool on a Saturday Bob replied, "There's a few internationals can't get a game for us on a Saturday so he won't be on his own!"
The League was again won with a bit to spare. The preferred eleven of: Clemence, Neal, Alan Kennedy, Thompson, Ray Kennedy, Hansen, Dalglish, Case, Johnson, McDermott and Souness missed only 28 games between them. Bob's continuity policy was long before the days of squad rotation!
Bob started to give youth it's chance in season '80-'81. Sammy Lee, who had played a handful of games over the previous three seasons, became a regular in the first team. Colin Irwin played in almost half the League matches. Kevin Sheedy played a couple of games. Howard Gayle was brought into some games with great effect, most notably the European Cup semi-final second leg away to Bayern Munich. Ronnie Whelan scored on his debut, his only appearance that season, against Stoke. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, a young lad was signed from Chester for £300,000: Ian Rush.
Rushie's debut was at Ipswich wearing the number 7 shirt vacated by the injured Kenny. When David Johnson was injured early in the game the bizarre front pairing was Rush and Sammy Lee! Enough to strike terror in to the heart of any defence, never mind the then England centre-half pairing of Butcher and Osman, a gawky kid making his debut and a 5 foot ballboy lookalike? I think not! Great days though were ahead of Rushie.
Rushie first caught the eye in the League Cup Final replay that season against West Ham at Villa Park. He didn't score but he starred in the 2-1 victory. He looked every inch an experienced centre-forward. He was giving instructions to far more experienced players. He even had the confidence to hand out a rollicking to Kenny Dalglish for a misplaced pass!
On the debit side Frank McGarvey had been and gone without ever playing in the first team. Richard Money had been signed but didn't do much at all. Bob didn't always get it right!
Patchy League form meant that we only finished fifth (tut tut Bob, what are you doing?). We had though reached the European Cup Final. En route we had big wins against Oulu Palloseura in which both Souness and McDermott scored hat tricks. The then pride of Scotland, Aberdeen, were next but were beaten at their own Pittodrie by another Goal of the Season from Terry Mac. The much-fancied CSKA Sofia tried their luck but were comprehensively thrashed 5-0 at Anfield with Souness scoring a hat trick in his best ever display for Liverpool. The Bulgarians were simply ripped apart by our aggression and passion. Bob had obviously told the lads to get stuck in right from the start. One worrying moment though was when Souness and Terry Mac were caught kissing during a goal celebration! A charge of importuning in the penalty area might have been on the cards!
A backs-to-the-wall display was needed at Bayern Munich after the disappointment of a goalless draw at Anfield in the first leg of the semi-final. Bayern kicked lumps out of us. An early injury casualty was Kenny Dalglish. In another of Bob's masterful tactical ploys he brought on Howard Gayle to run the Bayern defence a merry dance down the wing. The Bayern defenders were so obsessed with kicking Howard, which was the only way they could think of to stop him, they were leaving gaps in the middle. Johnson set up Ray Kennedy (two more of the walking wounded) for the decisive goal. Bob then replaced Gayle with Case. Howard had done his job!
So to the final in Paris. A pretty dire game was settled by a screamer from none other than "empty head" Barney Rubble. Bob's third European Cup success; the only British manager ever to have achieved this.
Rumours of a scandal, leading to player unrest, rocked the club during the summer of '81. Result was that both Ray Clemence and Jimmy Case left the club. Who did Bob replace them with? Two other top-flight experienced players? Err.. no. Bruce Grobbelaar and Craig Johnston. Johnno (or Skippy because of his Aussie background) had been noted while at Middlesbrough for his tenacious play. On the other hand, little was known about Brucie other than he had fought guerrillas in the Zimbabwean army and actually killed a few. Oh yeah, and he was as mad as a hatter, which seemed to be a pre-requisite of being signed by Bob at the time. Mark Lawrenson was also signed from Brighton to form a three man defensive partnership with Thompson and Hansen: another switch in tactics, which Bob had seen was required.
Johnston became yet another player to find it hard to settle into a first team place at Anfield. Meanwhile, Brucie's erratic goalkeeping was causing concern. This manifested itself to such an extent that in possibly Brucie's worst ever performance for Liverpool we were humiliated 1-3 at home by Manchester City on Boxing Day. With the Reds down to eleventh place and no chance of winning the League (!) drastic action was required. What did Bob do? Replace Grobbelaar? No, Bob knew that he had a gem in Brucie, he just had to be persevered with. Bob took the unusual step of changing captains in mid-season. Okay, Thommo was upset when the leadership was taken away from him but Bob's decision to make Souness his first in command on the pitch proved to be totally justified.
One of Bob's decisions at the time was to let Kevin Sheedy leave for Everton where he would be guaranteed first team football. Mind you, I would have been guaranteed first team football at Goodison at that time! Seriously, eyebrows were raised as to the wisdom of Bob's decision. Bob though had clearly seen in Ronnie Whelan some qualities that had been lacking in Sheedy. Sheedy went on to become a great player at Everton, no doubt about that, but I think we got the better end of Bob's decision on that one.
With Souness at the helm on the pitch and youngsters Rush and Whelan putting in stirring performances seemingly every game things soon started to turn. Brucie started to look the great goalkeeper that Bob always knew he was.
The League Cup Final at Wembley against Spurs seemed to be going the way of the Londoners who led for most of the game after an early goal from Archibald. That was until three minutes from the end when Sammy Lee played a forty yard ball to Whelan that, had the media darling from Tottenham, Glenn Hoddle, played it would have had camera crews, commentators and football writers in paroxysms of delight. Ronnie smashed the ball high into the net to send the game to extra-time.
Cue Bob the motivator and psychologist. Obviously all the players from both sides were very tired. Bob though told all our lads to stay on their feet during the interval between full time and the extra thirty minutes. We had the upper hand now; let's keep it that way. Don't let the Spurs players see we were tired. Meanwhile, the Tottenham players looked a spent force. Lying all over the pitch, cramped-up muscles being massaged back to life. Manager and coaching staff putting consoling arms around the players, they did indeed look a sorry lot. Our players on the other hand looked raring to go. So it proved as another goal from Ronnie Whelan and one from Rushie confirmed our second successive League Cup success. Bob had pulled off a psychological stroke that Shanks himself would have been proud of.
The last 25 League games of the season saw just two defeats and three draws. Bob's fifth League Championship was confirmed with a game to spare as Tottenham were defeated 3-1 at Anfield.
Bob announced at the start of the 1982-83 season that he was to retire at the end of the season. He had done virtually everything he could as manager and wanted to take a well-earned retirement. Could he go out on a winning note? You bet he could!
Bob made two signings before the start of the season. To be honest, the signing of David Hodgson from Middlesbrough was fairly baffling. This move never really worked out for either player or club. On the other hand, Steve Nicol (he of the size 14 boots) was signed from Ayr United. Although Steve played only a handful of games under Bob, the great man had seen enough potential to realise that here was a star for the future. Bob, as usual wasn't wrong; Steve went on to become a Liverpool legend.
Phil Thompson's persistent injury problems were to see him gradually phased out as Bob opted to return to a two man centre-half defensive strategy.
Bob's assault on a third successive League Cup, a feat no other club, never mind manager had achieved in the competition's history, culminated in the Final at Wembley against Manchester United. With fifteen minutes to go and United leading by an early Whiteside goal Bob used his secret weapon. Send Barney Rubble up! Barney duly obliged with an equalising rocket. The game was won by a Ronnie Whelan special eight minutes into extra time.
Souness, as captain, graciously allowed Bob to climb Wembley's thirty-nine steps ahead of him to lift the cup. Bob later described it as the proudest moment of his life. Well done to Souness for allowing this but even more well done to Bob for having the foresight, fifteen months earlier, of appointing this leader of men as the captain of his team.
In spite of picking up only two points from the last seven matches we were so far ahead of everybody else that Bob's sixth League Championship was secured well before the end of April.
Bob's last signing was Michael Robinson from Brighton. Hmm… as I said, he didn't always get it right!
So there you have it; a tribute to Bob Paisley from a fan's point of view. In a 44 year association with Liverpool Football Club Bob Paisley saw and done it all. Player, physio, trainer, coach, counsellor, motivator, loyalist, psychologist, disciplinarian, tactician but above all else, with six League Championships, three League Cups, one UEFA Cup and three European Cups, Bob was, quite simply, the most successful manager ever in the history of British football.
Bob Paisley R.I.P.
© Peter Etherington 2002
Pete Evo is the author of the evocative, humorous and just down right brilliant One Boy and his Kop - the story of his first 10 years as a Liverpool fan from from 1964-1974. You can visit his website for full ordering details and further examples of his writing :
Part of the proceeds from the sale of the book are going to help these 4 charities:
Hillsborough Justice Campaign, Zoe's Place Baby Hospice, Claire House Children's Hospice and the NSPCC.
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