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The Manager
revisits the career of a man who adopted Liverpool as his
home and managed the red side of the city to its greatest successes
difcult task
in football is to fll the shoes of a
successful manager. Te one major
exception to this rule is Bob Paisley,
who inherited a hugely successful
Liverpool team from his boss Bill
Shankly... and somehow managed
to take them up a level.
Born on the outskirts of Sunderland
in 1919, Paisley made such an
impression playing for the Bishop
Auckland amateur side that he soon
attracted the interest of professional
clubs from around the country. A
tenacious wing half with a powerful
throw-in, Paisley stayed with Bishop
Auckland long enough to collect
his frst major medal (for winning
the 1939 FA Amateur Cup) before
moving across the country to sign for
Liverpool. However, like many players
of his generation, Paisley’s career was
interrupted by the second world war.
Paisley signed up, trained as an
anti-tank gunner and soon found
himself in North Africa as one of Field
Marshall Montgomery’s ‘desert rats’.
In June of 1944, Paisley rode into
Rome on an Allied tank as one
of the eternal city’s liberators. Little
did he know at that point that he
would return to Rome 33 years later
with his Liverpool team to beat
Borussia Mönchengladbach in the
1977 European Cup Final.
Upon returning to Liverpool when
hostilities ended in 1945, Paisley
quickly got back into his stride,
picking up a League Championship
winners medal in 1946/47. He went
on to make a total of 278 appearances
as a player for Liverpool before
retiring in July 1954.
Paisley was never likely to stray far
from football and as soon as he hung
up his boots he returned to Anfeld
as a member of the back room staf.
Starting out as assistant trainer, he
worked his way up to chief trainer
and, eventually, to become Shankly’s
eventually accepted and set about
building on the foundations that his
predecessor had laid down.
Equipped with a deep understanding
of the game and a quiet determination
(which contrasted with Shankly’s
more confrontational style), Paisley
achieved the near-impossible, by
taking the team his predecessor had
built, improving it and even going on
to exceed Shankly’s haul of trophies.
Perhaps because he moved into the
manager’s role from the number two
position, Paisley was able to efect an
evolution at Liverpool, rather than the
revolution that most new managers
attempt to accomplish. For example,
when Liverpool’s star player, Kevin
Keegan, moved to Hamburg in 1977,
Paisley ensured a smooth transition
by signing an ideal replacement in
Glasgow Celtic’s Kenny Dalglish.
Paisley’s tenure at Liverpool was
marked by the signing of a number
of players who have gone on to
be Liverpool legends. He brought
Graeme Souness, Ian Rush and
Alan Hansen to the club, among
others, and developed an attacking
and combatitive style of play which
swept everything before it... not
just in England, but in European
competition too.
In June 1983, after more than nine
years in charge of frst team afairs,
Paisley decided it was time to step
down. He remained with the club,
frst as an advisor to his successors
(frst his own assistant, Joe Fagan,
“Its not about
the long ball
or the short
ball, its about
the right ball”
right-hand man and assistant manager.
When Shankly retired in July
1974, Paisley stepped up to take
the manager’s role. Shankly had
made such an impression on English
football in general, and Liverpool in
particular, that many people predicted
that Paisley would struggle to follow
him. Tis was understandable, as
Shankly had brought unprecedented
success to the Merseyside club,
winning three League Championships,
two FA Cup fnals and bringing home
the club’s frst ever European trophy,
the 1973 UEFA Cup.
Although he had been initially
reluctant to take the job on, Paisley