What makes a club great?

Liverpool FC is a club with a deep, rich history. From humble beginnings we've clawed our way up through the leagues to become not only the best team in the U.K. or Europe but the entire world, as our recent Club World Cup title demonstrates.

LFC-celebrate-CWC-win-on-trophy-rosterum

So how did we get here, what has made our club so great? Was it the vast amount of talent that's come through the ranks? How about the owners, CEO's and recruitment staff ? or was it our managers? This question is like what came first the chicken or the egg (answer by the way is Jay, it's always Jay). Let's pull up a chair, stick the kettle on and consider things further....

For me foremost it's the fans, particularly in the City of Liverpool itself, the families who through generations have adored, supported and followed our club across the planet, through thick and thin, good times and bad, sunshine and rain. Heartbreaking and heart-warming times but always that sense of togetherness, of one family incorporating the club, the fans, the players and all at LFC.

We always believe in You'll Never Walk Alone and have proved many times we stand by that ethos. We always believe in our team and show unwavering support, all the while with the famous Scouse character and wit - a uniquely infectious blend making us loved by so many right across the globe. Many clubs such as Dortmund, Celtic and even our bitter rivals Everton and Utd share a great affinity with us and we are again unique in the kind of matches and atmospheres we can create.

European-night-at-Anfield

The above ingredients can be viewed as making us the best footballing orchestra.... in the world, BUT, in my view the next most important and vital key to success is the conductor, or in our case, managers. They're the people that bring everything together. They decide on playing styles and tactics, and how they interact with staff, players and fans dictates not only if our club will become successful or not but also if it will do so while maintaining the above values.

You still need money from owners and talented players but that doesn't guarantee your club success. Just look at PSG (the main reason why player prices are so inflated) who have thrown billions into buying players and what have they got to show for it other than a few French league titles and cups? Nothing. It doesn't matter if you spend the most on the best players the world has to offer - unless you have a manager able to bring those players together as a team, the club will never become world dominating. And unless your manager has the right character they will fail to nurture your club's soul.

With these things in mind, lets take a look through our history books at some of the twenty three manager's we've had since our club's birth in 1892.


Appointed in 1892 John Mckenna and William Edward Barclay were the joint first ever Liverpool managers. With Barclay overseeing admin roles and McKenna taking charge on field. The pair managed 127 games with an impressive 77 wins and a 23.62% loss percentage (2nd highest win percentage and 8th best loss percentage). LFC then hired seven other managers before the club recruited the man, the myth, and eventually the legend Bill Shankly.


Shankly put pen to paper (probably just gave a firm hand shake because that was enough back then for a man to live by his word) on 1st December 1959. This was the beginning of the LFC revolution. Shankly would go on to be our longest standing manager of all time (783 games with 408 wins). It took him only one and a half seasons to gain promotion to the 1st division by taking the 2nd Division title in 61/62. So began a historical title and cup winning period for LFC, amassing 3 1st Division titles, 2 FA Cups, 2  Charity Shields and a UEFA cup between 1962 and 1974.

This period was also formative for us as Shankly, alongside Paisley who was already part of our coaching staff instilled many of the values we hold dear to this day. Amongst other historical customs The Boot Room was established and the This Is Anfield Sign installed. Shankly had also immediately taken to the people and City of Liverpool as they did to him and appreciated the importance of a good relationship with the fans.

Shankly-and-Paisley-together-on-train

In 1974 Shankly announced his retirement, and Paisley was the natural choice to take the reins. Paisley not only took on the task of continuing Shankly's traditions but hoped to push LFC further up the rungs of world football and he did so with great success. During his nine year tenure we won 6 league titles and 3 European cups making us one of, if not the most successful team in world football during the late 70's early 80's. He also captured the hearts of the fans and City. Quieter and less assuming than Shanks but passionate for LFC in the extreme. Humble, modest, an extremely good tactician and a great representative for Liverpool Football Club.

Shankly-Gates

 Both Shankly and Paisley were duly recognised with statues and gates at Anfield.

Paisley-gate

After Paisley's departure the club had some peculiar and downright shocking managers. Lets take a brief look through the last thirty-seven years at some who just haven't cut the mustard. The first that will come to everyone's mind is Roy Hodgson who signed for LFC on the 1st of July, 2010, after Benitez had been shown the door.


Hodgson managed to hold down his position for a massive 31 matches where he gained the impressive record of the second worst loss ratio since 1953 with a whopping 32.26% (only beaten by Moran who was caretaker coach for 10 matches in the 91/92 season with a 50% loss rate). It was clear from day one Hodgson was the wrong man for LFC with his prehistoric ideology and tactics, although those qualities later stood him good stead to become England Manager. Also by the fact he thought Paul Konchesky was our answer at left back. Shudder.

From 1991 to 1994 the other not so great coach was the mighty Graeme Souness, who had an illustrious Liverpool playing career but unfortunately his managerial career didn't follow suit. However he did manage to snag an FA cup during his tenure. Ultimately though, Souness's loss percentage wasn't that much better than Hodgson's at 29.3%.

Roy-Evans-Robbie-Fowler-Gerard-Houllier

Covering a decade between 1994 and 2004 were the trio of Evans, Houllier and Benitez. Each of us must make our own judgements but while these managers were very good they arguably fell short of being true greats and what we needed.

Each of the three had some success and if it weren't for a variety of factors ranging from being hamstrung by lack of transfer funds to god awful owners they may have had much more. It should be acknowledged as well (through gritted teeth) they came up against a more than worthy adversary in Ferguson and United. Tough acts for any manager to beat under any circumstances. All three managers were class acts and did Liverpool FC proud in maintaining traditions and values.

Rafa-and-Gerrard-Istanbul

Picking back up after Hodgson's time as manager, luckily in 2012 we saw the rebirth of attacking football with the introduction of Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers' appointment wasn't received too well after the failures of Hodgson because he'd been poached from lower league team Swansea FC.

Although this position may have come too soon in his career Rodgers was outstanding and brought some breathtaking football to the fans. Something we had all been yearning for and which also brought us to within slipping distance of our first title in many years. His press conferences though were remarkable and where he best displayed his extreme talent in cringe-worthiness but worse even than that was his later deployment of defensive tactics.

From the sublime attacking football to the bizarre line-up decisions in the Champions League where he decided to bench our Captain Fantastic against Real Madrid and we promptly lost, not to mention some equally bizarre signings. It culminated in us losing 1-6 to Stoke and the end to his LFC position. Cringy at times he was but overall not bad considering the step up from his previous job, and he has to take credit for us going so close to the title in such fine fashion in 2013/14.

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Next up, hang on a second, you didn't think we'd forgotten the King! Of course no manager discussion would be complete without Sir Kenny Dalglish. If anyone made our club great than perhaps no one more so than he. Both Shankly and Paisley were and are Liverpool legends of great magnitude but Kenny is certainly every bit their equal.

Kenny-Dalglish

Joining Liverpool in 1977, on the pitch Dalglish made 515 appearances, scoring 172 goals. From that time until 1985/86 Kenny helped us win no less than 6 league titles, 1 FA Cup, 4 league Cups, 5 Charity Shields, 3 European Cups and 1 Super Cup.

Not done there, from 1985 now as player-manager he added a further 3 league titles, 2 FA Cups and 4 Charity Shields before stepping down in 1991. Another brief managerial spell from 2011 to 2012 is best glossed over although he still managed to win a league cup and it certainly doesn't tarnish his record.

Amazing as his playing and managerial careers were, it's for his off pitch actions which Kenny is held in such high regard. With Liverpool through the Heysel and Hillsborough disasters, a player at the former and player-manager at the latter, he embodies perhaps better than any before him or since what it means to be a part of Liverpool Football Club and family.

In the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, along with wife Marina he attended many of the funerals, up to four in a day of those who'd tragically lost their lives and ensured someone from Liverpool Football Club was there at all of them. He helped hold City, Club and the families together and has since done much to support them in their fight for justice.

His actions were selfless and eventually the weight of what he'd seen and experienced took it's toll on his own health (he had also been in the crowd at an earlier similar tragedy at the Ibrox stadium during a Rangers v Celtic game he was attending as a fan) but he wanted no fuss made.

“As far as we were concerned, we were fortunate our damage was not as permanent as it was for the families.

“If we were damaged for a little bit, then fine. For the help that we gave to the people who most needed it at that time, it’s a small price to pay.”


“They supported Liverpool. Now it was the turn of Liverpool Football Club to support them,”


And support them he did. A legend on and off the pitch and thoroughly deserving of his knighthood.

No one will be able to follow in the same way and we are grateful they won't have to but they can follow many of the King's footsteps and maybe even add to the template of greatness for future managers to use and this brings us nicely on to the "Normal One",  Mr Jurgen Klopp who made his way from Borussia Dortmund on the 8th October 2015.

With him, he brought running, pressing, huffing and puffing. As well as a bucket load of talent and tactical nous but more so than all of that he brought compassion, heart, hunger, togetherness and from day dot shone a light again on what it means to be great - what it means to be Liverpool - all of those things and more and as they say the rest is history.........


No poll on this one because it's not about who is best, the table above is included for discussion purposes in case it really was Woy and please give your views! but more importantly it's about the special ingredients that make us the great club we are, enjoying them and enjoying that we are part of a great family. Never more important than at times such as these.

Best wishes and good health to all.

YNWA
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