Paisley and his suede shoes

Friday, December 28 – 1979
Summer holidays best epitomise Bob Paisley. Not for him the fleshpots of the Caribbean or hobnobbing with the rich on the Riviera. England’s most successful manager – and arguably its most self-effacing celebrity – goes to work … as a stable lad.
He spends a fortnight getting up at dawn and “doing out” the thoroughbreds for a trainer pal.
I once asked him why and he replied simply: “Because I like it.”
That is Bob Paisley. The man who has won everything, except the League Cup since he took over as Liverpool manager.
He does the things he likes to do. Not those which others might think a man in his position ought to do.
He shirkts the limelight, going about his daily business with an easy, affable style and always with a twinkle in his eye.
Discussions are never allowed to escalate into arguments. He says his piece – then forgets it; life is too short to bear grudge.
But if I am painting the picture of a “soft” man, then rid yourself of that impression. He is a man of steel when it comes to keeping Liverpool up on their pinnacle.
Of the side which win the European Cup in May 1977, Jones, Smith, Hughes, Keegan, Heighway, Callaghan, plus Toshack, have all been replaced.
The tribute to Paisley’s managerial skill is that despite their departures, Liverpool have become if anything an even better side.
Yet to look and listen to Bob Paisley any young manager, aspiring to reach his heights, would not get a clue as to how it is achieved.
I once went over to interview him the day before the Cup Final.
I forgot which – there have been so many – and I found him in his comfortable cardigan and suede shoes, looking as if he were about to trot off to the allotment to plant shallots but busily engaged in racecard reading.
He is neither a regular nor heavy gambler but gets a kick out of spotting winners. And on that final he said: “It’s only another match.
“A manager shouldn’t need to motivate players – they are adults who know the prizes that go with ability and performances.”
After a seven-goal League slamming of Spurs last season, he winked at me and said:
“Think what the score might have been had the players been coached!”
Paisley is a natural humourist, but the secret of his success is that he gets the best talent and then let them get on with their job.
(Daily Express, Alan Thompson, 28-12-1979)

Bob Paisley

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