Bob Paisley: His climb to the top

July 27, 1974
So the task of following the legendary Bill Shankly as manager of Liverpool has gone to his partner, Bob Paisley.

Some will say it is an impossible task. Maybe so. But if any man has the qualities to maintain the Liverpool style, the Liverpool pattern and the Liverpool way of life, then it is Bob Paisley.

After all, he has shared the Shankly success story as his right hand man for 15 years. He was in at the beginning, has played a vital role in the background planning and organisation, and his contribution has been immense.

He has been at the club for 35 years as, successively, player, coach and assistant to the manager. The Shankly-Paisley partnership made Liverpool into the most successful club in England over the past 10 years and the directors clearly believe this managerial expertise should be disturbed as little as possible.

Why look for a newcomer to take over? That was the thinking behind the directors’ decision to promote Bob Paisley. They have a winning team off the pitch as well as on it so why upset the system? Give the deputy the chance to do the job.

They don’t believe in change for change sake at Anfield. Bob Paisley is built in with the bricks there, as they say. His knowledge of the players and the tactics, and his own ability make him the best possible choice.

Older Liverpool supporters will remember him, in the immediate post-war years, as a 100 per center, a left half whose dedication, loyalty, determination and ability made him the perfect club man. He didn’t win many headlines, or any international honours, but he was a thorough professional, the backbone of the team, a man who never gave anything less than his best.

He has taken those qualities into his work as a coach, a physiotherapist and the managerial sphere.

Where Bill Shankly was the perfect front man, the ideal man to lead the club with his unique brand of personality and managerial flair, which stamped him as the best in the business, he relied tremendously on the day-to-day dedication and thoroughness which Bob Paisley showed as his right hand man.

Together, they ran the coaching, the tactics, the man-management which is the most important feature of a manager’s make-up.

They discussed every match in immense detail. They knew every player’s strengths and weaknesses. They had no secrets from each other. Their friendship and working links were built on honesty. They are both honest men.

Bob Paisley was never a man to crave publicity – he’ll be getting plenty of that now, however! He knew that Liverpool’s cause could be expressed best by an expert in that field in his boss, and just got on with the job of running playing-affairs with his chief.

He tied up the loose ends, made sure that the Liverpool machine ran smoothly on and off the field. He did it all with a sure touch.

Now he is stepping into the higher realms of management with one of the greatest clubs in the world. Moving up from No. 2 to No 1 is the biggest step he can take. The problems will be new and possible frightening, but what an apprenticeship he’s served under the best of them all.

Most Liverpool fans will know Bob Paisley for his years as trainer when he came on to the field to attend injured players. For the past three years, Joe Fagan has done that job, but the stocky, energetic figure of Bob Paisley has been seen laying down tactics from the trainer’s box at Anfield.

Because he has stayed out of the limelight – and rightly so – few people will know Bob Paisley well. He has stayed in the huge shadow which the immense figure of Bill Shankly threw wherever he went.

But he is an expert in his own right. He has a peerless knowledge of the game and players. His physiotherapy know-how is staggering.

He is forthright like men from the North-East tend to be. He has a straight and penetrating gaze. He is not taken in by waffle. He has been in the game so long that he knows all the answers, and can provide a few angles which even the cagiest of players have never thought about.

It is enlightening to hear an expert talk with honesty and perception.

Behind that down-to-earth front lies a wonderful sense of humour and an enthusiasm which sometimes bubbles over in his Geordie accent when he really gets into his stride, talking about some players who has pleased or displeased him.

Now he faces the biggest job of his life.

He starts with two record-making factors. He must be, at 54, the oldest man to begin a managerial career with a big club. And he happens to be a shareholder of the club he now manages.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: July 27, 1974; via © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

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