Liverpool is a team with a glorious history of taking home honours at the highest levels of both national and international football. But, as any good football fan will tell you, the actions of the team on the pitch are only half of the story. All success as a football team is built on a foundation of solid and effective leadership, and Liverpool has had that in spades.
The Reds’ current manager, Jürgen Klopp has been the key to their current dominance of the English Premier League and the inventor of Gegenpressing is considered to be one of the best managers in the world.
Despite their perceived Premier League dominance, Liverpool has had somewhat of a shaky record of late, having comprehensively lost to Chelsea and Watford and scraping a loss against Atletico Madrid.
However, with oddschecker giving them solid 8/13 odds to win their next match against local rivals Everton in the so-called Merseyside Derby, the Reds look ready to restart the season with a strong and stabilising win.
With another Premiership title win on the horizon, we’ll be looking back at the managers that have guided Liverpool through the years to get the clubs to it current winning ways.
While Gerard Houllier’s reputation at Liverpool might have been soured a little because of the circumstances of his leaving, there can be no doubt that he was instrumental in an overhaul of Liverpool’s training facilities and the advancement of players from the academy who would go on to become pivotal.
Houllier oversaw the revitalisation of Liverpool’s youth training facilities at Melwood and inducted key players such as Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, and Michael Owen as well as making vital signings like Sami Hyypia and Emile Heskey.
With these new and rising stars, Houllier was able to win the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 2001, the FA Cup in 2001, the League Cup in 2001 and 2003, as well as the Community Shield in 2001.
Serving from 2004-2010 Rafael “Rafa” Benitez arrived at Liverpool in time to stem an exodus of players, managing to keep Steven Gerrard at the club, even if he did end up losing Michael Owen.
During his time at the club, Rafa was able to sign excellent players such as Luis Garcia, Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina, and Fernando Torres. He was also at the helm when Liverpool won one of arguably their most famous games, coming back from being 3-nil down at the halftime whistle to beat AC Milan on penalties, with Jerzy Dudek playing a critical role, and win the Champions League.
In addition to this most famous of Liverpool victories, Rafa was also at the helm when the Reds won the FA Cup in 2006, the Community Shield in 2006, and the UEFA Super Cup in 2005.
Stepping back in time a bit, Tom Watson headed up Liverpool from 1896 to 1915, a colossal 19 seasons at the helm, which remains a Liverpool record.
Having made a name for himself at Sunderland, where he remains the most successful manager the team have ever had, Watson was tempted to Liverpool and began a period of sustained improvement at the club.
Whilst Liverpool were relegated to the Second Division during Watson’s time at the club, he was able to get the Reds back into top-flight English football the very next season and they took the First Division cup home in 1906.
Liverpool very much ran in Kenny Dalglish’s blood. Not content with being one half of one of Liverpool’s most successful striking partnerships alongside Ian Rush, Dalglish ended his 13-year playing career by transitioning to a managerial role.
While Kenny Dalglish is most fondly remembered for his success on the pitch he was also part of three of the biggest tragedies to hit the club, being present for the Hillsborough, Heysel and Ibrox tragedies. His firm hand at the tiller and compassionate response in the aftermath of Hillsborough won him as much admiration as his footballing victories.
Bob Paisley has some huge shoes to fill when he stepped up to take over from Bill Shankly in 1974, but as a member of the so-called “Boot Room” of backroom staff, he was well placed to do so.
As with the other outstanding managers on this list, Paisley brought new and exciting talent to the club, including huge names such as Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Graeme Souness, Bruce Grobbelaar and Ronnie Whelan.
During Paisley’s time in charge, Liverpool won six First Division titles, three League Cups, six FA Charity Shields, and five European trophies, including the European Cup, European Super Cup and UEFA Cup. Paisley remains the only Liverpool manager who has been able to win three European Cups.
Paisley’s career as a manager was only brought to an end by the outbreak of World War Two, although he did go on to serve on the board of directors until 1992. In recognition of his success, one of the gates to Anfield was named after him.
No list of outstanding Liverpool managers would be complete without mentioning Bill Shankly. When Shankly arrived, the Reds were in the second division and their infrastructure was in tatters.
Shankly made his mark immediately by letting 24 players go and rebuilding the club with new players, such as Ian St. John, Ron Yeats, Gordon Milne, Peter Thompson, Kevin Keegan, John Toshack and Ray Clemence and new backroom staff, such as Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Reuben Bennett, who would become the famous “Boot Room”.
Rebuilt from the ground up, Liverpool went on to win promotion in 1962 and the won the FA cup in 1965. While Shankly didn’t amass quite the same size of trophy cabinet as Bob Paisley, he did completely revitalise the club and nurtured some amazing talent both on and off the pitch.
Shankly was just as famous as his connection with the fans, personally responding to letters and reaching out to fans who contacted him to help them get tickets to important games.