Bob Paisley

Bob Paisley
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Bob Paisley

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Current Club/Country: N/A.

Previous Clubs/Countries: Liverpool.

Honours: European Cup 1976/77, 1977/78, 1980/81. English League 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1981/82, 1982/83. English League Cup 1980/81, 1981/82, 1982/83. UEFA Cup 1975/76. UEFA Supercup 1977/78. English Super Cup (Charity Shield) 1974/75, 1976/77, 1977/78, 1979/80, 1980/81, 1982/83.

"I said that when I took over that I would settle for a drop of Bell's once a month, a big bottle at the end of the season and a ride round the city in an open top bus." - Bob Paisley

Paisley arrived at management via a route that has since been repeated by the likes of Nigel Adkins. Like Adkins, and a few others, he was initially a physiotherapist, before moving into coaching. In fact he displayed an astonishing skill developed during that time, he could look at a player walk a few steps and immediately diagnose an injury.

There were a number of examples of this, but probably the most famous of them was when Arsenal visited Anfield and Bob spotted Charlie George was carrying an ankle problem during the warm up. It is a measure of the respect he had among other teams that, on his advice, Bertie Mee pulled George out of the team. There was another famous moment a few years later, told by his biographer John Keith, when David Fairclough "ran over to take a corner at the Kop end and as he cocked his leg to strike the ball, Bob turned to coach Joe Fagan and said 'get him off, he needs a cartilage operation'. Next week he was under the surgeon's knife."

It was his experience as a physio that led to him suggesting, which was revolutionary at the time in English football, a cool down period after training. Bill Shankly implemented the idea and credited it as resulting in "an astonishing lack of injuries over many seasons". Though his later advice to Alan Kennedy was less helpful. When Kennedy was injured, he told Paisley that it was fine, except when going up and down stairs, so Paisley simply advised him to buy a bungalow!

When he was raised, though reluctantly, to the managerial hotseat, he showed an incredible insight into the game, such as when he moved a struggling forward to midfield. Ray Kennedy went on to become a Liverpool legend in that position. Paisley was also ruthless, he knew exactly when it was time to replace a cog in the machine, before it wore down so much it upset the workings. As Alan Hansen explains: "Under Bob Paisley, if a player showed signs of complacency, he was out. It was all over for him."

Paisley became the most successful English manager of all time by taking what was there and making it better. Not just the foundations Shankly had built, but he would see something in an opponent's play and take that idea and improve on it, then implement it. That is how the style of play evolved from simply being a passing team, to being built upon centre-backs who could play out from the back. Bob had seen how the Continentals played the game and he simply made Liverpool do it better.

Despite the incredible insight and knowledge, Paisley had enough humility to know that he did not know everything and was always willing to listen to others as Roy Evans related: "I'm a 25 year old guy and he is asking my opinion....He is saying, 'You might not get it right but you might get one little thing we don't.' They gave you your voice, your confidence, and that's the only way you could learn, really. It showed he wanted the people below him to have a voice and to speak."

In fact that is how the famous and fabled Liverpool boot room came into being: "It started initially with Joe and I as somewhere we could talk and air our views and, on match days, as a place to drink with visiting managers and backroom staff. We tried to win every game, but no matter how the match was, we liked to relax afterwards and have a drink with the opposition. Just talking about the game is a most interesting aspect of football. On Sunday mornings we'd go in and talk about the Saturday game. There were differing opinions and disagreements and everyone put their oar in. But it was all done in the right manner. We liked everyone to air their views and you probably got a more wide-ranging discussion in the boot room than you would in the boardroom. But nothing spilled out of there. What went on was within these four walls. There was a certain mystique about the place, which I also believe there should be about the dressing room. What's said in there should, by and large, be private too."

A friend of Bob's, a local brewery manager called Paul Orr, ran his own team and would often send the players over for extra coaching under Bob. When Orr later became Liverpool's Lord Mayor, he sent a lorry to Anfield with crates of Guinness for the boot room, which Ian Callaghan remembered well: "You had to be invited into the boot room and when I was coming to the end of my career, Bob would invite me in with the other coaches and we'd have chats over a glass or two of Guinness."

Paisley was also someone who knew the value of talking to players, he was not a shouter, in fact he always bore in mind what his old headmaster had told him, that if you speak softly people will try to listen to you. But it was not just about the players with Bob, according to Alan Kennedy: "He didn't just chat to the tea ladies and the kit washing women, he knew their first names and, more to the point, wanted to know them." It was one big team and they were all important in that team.

What really made Paisley a success though is exemplified by this little comment he once made: "A lot of teams beat us, do a lap of honour and don't stop running. They live too long on one good result. I remember Jimmy Adamson crowing after Burnley had beaten us once, that his players were in a different league. At the end of the season they were." That is not a jibe at Adamson or Burnley so much as an insight into his mindset. No matter what the team might have won in the previous game or season, the next game was what mattered. It was always eyes on the next prize. That is why, when it came to handing out winner's medals for the league, the box containing them was unceremoniously dumped in the Anfield dressing room and the players told 'if you think you deserve one, take one'. To Bob it was done and dusted and what mattered was the next game. It was always about the next game.

"There was only one Bob Paisley and he was the greatest of them all. He went through the card in football. He played for Liverpool, he treated the players, he coached them, he managed them and then he became a director. He could tell if someone was injured and what the problem was just by watching them walk a few paces. He was never boastful but had great football knowledge. I owe Bob Paisley more than I owe anybody else in the game. There will never be another like him." - Kenny Dalglish

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