July 30, 1974
If Bob Paisley remains an anonymous figure to the thousands of Liverpool supporters, even long after he has taken over from Bill Shankly, he will be the last person to complain.
“I can live without publicity,” says the man who will lead Liverpool when they start the new season with a match at newly promoted Luton Town on August 17. And he adds: “It would not worry me if the fans did not know me – as long as the team was doing well. Because if the team is doing well, that means I am doing my job and that is important.”
So the new Liverpool manager differs from the retiring manager in respect of publicity. But that is one of the few ways they differ. “I have got the same thirst for success, the same thirst to bring trophies to Anfield as Bill has,” said Mr. Paisley.
When the season starts in earnest, the 54-year-old Mr. Paisley will be doing just that – concentrating all his efforts on bringing more success to Liverpool.
It will not be easy following Bill Shankly – even when you have been his right hand man for many years – but it did not take Mr. Paisley long to make up his mind to accept the job when it was offered.
He said: “The reason I accepted was chiefly because of the staff here at Anfield. I have great confidence in them and if I had had any qualms, I would not have taken the job. There is a great family atmosphere here; it is more a way of life than a job.”
Mr. Paisley still occupies the assistant manager’s office at Anfield, but the move down the corridor is not far away it is a move he never thought he would be making.
“I suppose I was one of the people who thought that Bill would never retire and I never had any ambitions to go elsewhere to be a manager. In fact, when I finished playing football I would have gone out of the game if I had not received an offer to stay on and join the training staff,” he said.
Since his retirement from playing, Mr. Paisley has moved through the ranks at Anfield until he was appointed as Mr. Shankly’s assistant – and it was a perfect combination.
Mr. Shankly would lavish praise on the players after a win – and Mr. Paisley added some of his own words of wisdom to keep their heads out of the clouds. “Now I will probably need some help from others in that respect,” he says.
But the thought of taking over as manager obviously excites him and he has been cheered by the hundreds of letters he has received wishing him well. “I just hope they will bear with me at the start,” he said.
Problems will soon have to be faced although Mr. Paisley says: “I do not know any manager without problems. If you are at the top you want to stay there; if you are at the bottom you want to get away.”
Team selection will be the first problem to face him with. Larry Lloyd, Chris Lawler, John Toshack and Phil Boersma all fighting for firs team places.
And past reputations will mean nothing. “The players will get a fair crack of the whip from me and I hope I will get one from them. There is a great squad here but it is the best team that will go out every week because past results mean nothing, nor does the strength of your squad – and you get no points for what you did last week,” he said.
He added: “It is easy to be popular with players, but sometimes you have got to be cruel to behind to them. You have got to make them feel good; but not overconfident because success is there if we apply ourselves the right way and as far as I am concerned, a manager is only as good as his team.
Mr Paisley means to be a success as a manager. His loyalty to Liverpool is unquestionable and he says. “This is a mature team so there will be no establishing period for me. Given usual luck and freedom from injuries we can do well although sometimes football can turn round and kick you right in the face.”
First task for him is to re-motivate the players after the heady excitement of the FA Cup win over Newcastle – and to rid them of the shock they suffered when Mr. Shankly announced his retirement.
“The period of mourning is over now. We want a carnival atmosphere rather than a funeral one and I know that this is the way Bill would want it. Nothing would please him more because after all the show must go on,” he said.
There will be little change in the well tried Anfield routine when Mr. Paisley officially takes over on August 13 – the day after the testimonial match for Billy McNeill against Celtic in Scotland.
But he knows the first few weeks will be crucial. Five or six games will be needed to get over the running-in period and the first League game at Luton will be the toughest possible start.
“You find that newly promoted teams train to start the season well and they will be all out to impress. This is the time when you get injuries,” he said.
Results though are what he cares about. “Liverpool are paying my wages and I am doing my job for them if the team gets results,” he says.
And if results do not come, the players can expect to hear about it in no uncertain terms.
There may never be another Bill Shankly, but Bob Paisley is determined to show that he is just as passionate in his love for Liverpool. And that he can bring them just as much success.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: July 30, 1974; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited