50 years SHANKS…(cont..2)
91205> Shanks>"Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say ‘We’re LIVERPOOL’." The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That’s how I see football, that’s how I see life." Bill Shankly
"For a player to be good enough to play for Liverpool, he must be prepared to run through a brick wall for me then come out fighting on the other side." …………BILL SHANKLY YNWA
Bill Shankly: True Working-Class Hero
Bill Shankly has been dead for over 27 years and yet his reputation and status remain undiminished to all who witnessed him and to those who know their football history. Respected as much for the man he was as for his football nous, it’s worth revisiting the man to remind ourselves of his remarkable story and achievements.
Born in 1913 in Glenbuck, a small mining village of less than a thousand people in east Ayrshire, he was one of ten kids – all five brothers went on to play professional football. His mother’s brothers were director of Carlisle United and chairman of Portsmouth, so he came out of the womb steeped in the game.
He left school aged 14 to go down the pit for two and six a week and worked there until he was 19 when, after a successful spell playing amateur football for Cronberry Eglinton, he was signed by Carlisle United in 1932. The following year he transferred for £500 to Preston with whom he won the first Division in 1934. He was crucial to that team’s success, playing in the old wing-half position.
He played in the first televised cup final against Huddersfield, winning after extra time, and was capped seven times for Scotland. Like many men, the war years fatally disrupted his career and he retired in 1948.
Before ending up at Liverpool he managed in the lower leagues at Carlisle, Grimsby, Workington and Huddersfield, where he signed a young Denis Law.
His reputation as a fierce disciplinarian and motivational manager was already well established. He was unusually a tea-totaller and was years ahead of his time in terms of promoting fitness regimes.
Liverpool were in the second division when Shankly took over. Two third-place finishes were the prelude to a title-winning season in 1962-63. Two seasons later they were First Division champions – such meteoric rises could happen in those days.
He had turned an ailing club into one of England’s biggest and best in just a few years. The Liverpool F.C. we know today was born in this era. From top to bottom he transformed Anfield. He put together a side fitter and stronger than any other. He created what came to be known as The Boot Room.
So fit and strong were his sides that when they won the 1965-66 First Division title, they used just 14 players and two of them were bit-part players.
Shankly delivered the ten most successful years the club had to date winning two FA Cups, two more league titles and a UEFA Cup before retiring in 1974 aged 60. His successor Bob Paisley would build even bigger, more prolonged success onto the base that Shanks had created.
That’s the bald facts but perhaps even more importantly in that period, Shanks became a mythic figure of quite epic proportions; a people’s poet and philosopher. At times he seemed to be a father figure to the whole red half of the city and the football world beyond.
How this happened at a time when the fledgling media spent little time focusing on footballers, let alone its managers, is genuinely astonishing and proof of the sheer irrepressible character of the man.
He was of course aided by the fact that, at the time, the city of Liverpool was at the vortex of popular culture thanks to The Beatles, so anything Liverpool related caught people’s attention.
Hand in hand with the rise of The Beatles was the depiction and celebration of the working class through the plays and novels of Osborne, Delaney, Sillitoe and many others. For perhaps the first time, it was cool to be working-class and more than that it was especially cool to be northern and working-class.
Films like Billy Liar, A Taste of Honey, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning and This Sporting Life were played out against a northern backdrop of decaying mills, chimneys and dirt. Coronation Street was gritty and full of memorable characters the like of which we had all grown up with. Social mobility was at an all-time high as bright kids from deprived backgrounds became successful.
Into this fertile seed compost of modern culture was planted Bill Shankly. In previous eras his superb west of Scotland accent might have simply made people tune out but now, in the new reality, where the working-class had something to say and a ready audience who wanted to listen, he was not only heard, he was appreciated.
"The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That’s how I see football, that’s how I see life." Born into an industry based on collectivised labour, socialism was in his DNA.
He even changed Liverpool’s strip to all red. The red of revolution made the players seem bigger and fiercer.
He was a proper man of the people and thought it part of his job to write to fans personally and even called on fans at their homes to discuss how the game had gone. This wasn’t PR puffery, this was his way. He saw football as pure working-class art; of the people, by the people and if the team failed, then he had failed the people.
He would give tickets away to fans. It’s no wonder the fans adored him really. He paid them respect and took notice of them. He saw them all as part of the same thing. They all won and all lost together.
This collectivist spirit was imbued into the players. They were a team, not a set of individuals. When Tommy Smith once informed him his knee was injured, Shanks insisted that "it’s not your knee, its Liverpool’s knee".
He possessed a dry wit, saying if Everton were playing at the bottom of the garden he’d draw the curtains and telling Smith he could start a riot in a graveyard. There are a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Shanks wit and wisdom all dispensed in the papers and on local TV news to a public eager to lap it up.
His success as a manager helped cement his legend but regardless of the silverware he was one of those rare individuals who innately commanded respect. It’s a nebulous attribute that is impossible to define but it is undoubtedly true of Shanks that both fans and players would have walked on hot coals for him. Even now, ex-players queue up to re-tell tales they have told hundreds of times before, seemingly not wanting their memories of the great man die.
Shankly wasn’t around in the public eye for long, little more than 14 years at Liverpool, probably ten of which he was in the full glare of the limelight. It feels like it was much much longer. His impact was so intense, so stellar that it burned an indelible mark into football.
He built two successful sides at Liverpool, the mid 60s Roger Hunt and Ron Yeats side and the early 70s Tommy Smith and Kevin Keegan side. In an era of the long ball they played a pass and move game coupled with an almost brutal aggression. Much like Shankly himself, it combined style and precision with physicality.
He was a man of the people to the last, dying like every good Scotsman, of a heart attack.
Somehow, when you go to Liverpool FC or even just to the city itself, it is possible to still feel Shankly’s presence. It’s in the atoms, in the molecules, in the dark matter of the place so deeply has his influence soaked.
And if you’re in any doubt as to his qualities, search out an interview with him. It’s a testament to the fecundity of his words that interviews conducted 40 years ago still have wisdom and resonance; they still inspire.
Few can be called great football men; even fewer can be called great men. Shankly was both.
A charismatic man who realised his dream of turning us into English football’s most dominant force, the Scot’s spirit has quite rightly been immortalised in the very foundations of our club.
His name is synonymous with the very meaning of the ‘Liverpool way’ and it is his legacy that has seen us go on and conquer Europe on no fewer than five occasions, while monopolising the domestic game for over two decades.
And yet, such glory was way beyond even the most optimistic Kopites’ dreams when Shanks was appointed Liverpool’s ninth manager on December 1, 1959.
As the final whistle blew on his first match in charge 18 days later the prospect of Shankly’s Liverpool side, languishing in 10th place in Division Two, going on to one day boast a record of three First Division titles, one Division Two title, two FA Cups and One UEFA Cup must have seemed little more than a pipedream.
A 4-0 hammering at home to Cardiff City left a man who was already notorious for his outspoken comments and memorable quotes searching for the words to explain what he had just witnessed and what he must do to rectify the current state of affairs.
But mighty oaks from little acorns grow…
Shanks knew the side needed an injection of spirit, determination and desire to match his own and he would go on to mould a team to mirror the very same winning mentality and hunger for silverware he had had from an early age.
Born into a family of 10 in the Ayrshire mining village of Glenbuck, where conditions were harsh, Shankly had found solace in his ultimate passion and would inevitably go on to realise his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
For him football in Glenbuck was the elixir of life, a blessed relief from the toil of the mineshaft.
It set him on a path that would see him take leave from the town of his roots and in 1932 he signed forms with Carlisle United. Within a year, he had moved onwards and upwards to Deepdale, home of Preston North End as he carved out a distinguished playing career at wing-half that brought seven caps for Scotland.
Unfortunately the prime of his playing life would be disrupted by war in 1939 and when the 1946-47 season kick-started organised professional football again in England, Shankly was 33.
It was time to decide what he would do with the rest of his life and it was no surprise that his addiction to the beautiful game would see him set his sights – in true Shankly style – on becoming the greatest football manager of all time.
He had already grown accustomed to what seemed like an obligatory boardroom battle as his 10-year managerial career prior to taking over in the Anfield hot-seat saw him earn his spurs with the likes of Carlisle United, Grimsby, Workington and finally Huddersfield Town. His time with the Terriers also saw him grant a debut to an up and coming 16-year-old by the name of Denis Law.
At each club he grew frustrated by the board’s inability to match his own ambition and it was this single-minded approach and a lack of financial backing that saw him walk out on both Carlisle United, the club who had given him his chance as a young player, and Grimsby.
This devotion to winning led T V Williams to take a keen interest in the man who had at that point been more recognised for his quick wit and acid tongue than for his success on the pitch.
Shankly’s ambition had been obvious when he interviewed for the Reds job in 1951 and although Liverpool felt he was not the right man at the time, he had made enough of an impression to ensure that when the job came up again, he would be the only candidate.
And so to his first few months in charge of Liverpool, a time from which it is hard to understate the ordinariness of our position.
Languishing in the old second division, with a crumbling stadium, poor training facilities and a large unwieldy playing staff, the challenge facing Shankly was enormous.
But typically, it was one he would relish, and after realising the need to dramatically transform the club from head-to-toe he dispensed with the services of 24 members of the playing staff.
However, it wasn’t just the presence of Shanks that would help sow the seeds for a future of glory. He had the good fortune to inherit an experienced and resourceful backroom staff in the shape of Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, and Reuben Bennett – a group that would form the famous bootroom.
With this in his armoury, slowly but surely, Shankly’s Liverpool began to move forward.
The Anfield crowd sensed the change. Gates regularly topped 40,000 and promotion to the first division was imminent.
The initial stage of Shankly’s rebuilding programme had taken shape, thanks in large part, to the signing of two key players in Ron Yeats and Ian St John.
Both were Scottish warriors, men who embodied the type of spirit and desire that would become symbolic of Liverpool under Shankly and the example by which all future recruits would be measured.
The foundations were now in place and the Reds romped away with the Second Division title in 1961-62, finishing eight points clear of their nearest rivals and amassing an impressive 62 point.
All this was accomplished in the days when two points were awarded for a win and perhaps more significantly, they would achieve it all with real attacking verve – scoring 99 goals in the process.
Having realised his initial target of leading Liverpool back into the topflight, Shankly set about addressing an issue much closer to home – Everton.
The Blues were firmly established as the number one side in the city of Liverpool at the time and the Scottish messiah was not content to let the Toffees sustain the bragging rights for much longer.
Most sides would be content with consolidation in their first season back in the topflight – but not Liverpool.
The word was an unknown quantity in the Bill Shankly dictionary and by the end of the campaign he had led the Reds to the title – savouring the moment as reigning champions Everton were forced to hand over the trophy.
It set the tone for the rest of Shankly’s reign and led to him famously claim: "There are only two sides in Liverpool. Liverpool and Liverpool reserves."
The title was just reward for years of hard work behind the scenes, where Shanks introduced the five-a-side games that so defined his football thinking at a completely revamped Melwood.
Pass and move, keep it simple, a creed taken from the daily matches played by the miners of Glenbuck all those years ago.
His success was built upon a new routine whereby the players would meet and change for training at Anfield and then board the team bus for the short trip to Melwood. After the session they would all bus back to Anfield together and perhaps get a bite to eat.
This way Shankly ensured all his players had warmed down correctly and he would keep his players free from injury. It was also a routine that instilled a tremendous team spirit.
In the 1965-66 season Liverpool finished as champions using just 14 players and two of those only played a handful of games.
The first FA Cup win in 1965 was followed by some magical European exploits across the continent as the Reds established a passing style that became the envy of the watching world.
Amidst all this, stood Shankly, a man who had found his spiritual home. He was perfectly in tune with the Kopites, knowing and understanding how they felt about football and the pride a successful team gave them.
His love affair with the Liverpool people is best summed up by the great man himself when he declared: "I’m just one of the people on the Kop…"
While all good things must come to an end, the decline of the great 60s team was not the end for Shankly, who set about constructing his second great Liverpool side.
Out went Hunt, St John, Yeats and Lawrence, and in came Keegan, Heighway, Lloyd and Clemence.
Success followed success as the football world was given a taste of Liverpool as a relentless winning machine.
The first European trophy arrived in 1973, in the form of the UEFA cup, a much heralded success that was won in tandem with the club’s eighth league title.
And in 1974 the FA Cup returned to Anfield after a breathtaking Wembley performance against a hapless Newcastle United.
Shankly had reached for the stars and made his dreams a reality. He was at the pinnacle of his profession – a man exuding charisma and a manager who was deservedly worshipped by his loyal followers in the stand.
And so the events that transpired on a warm July day back in 1974 would rock not just the very foundations of the club but the entire football world.
The great Bill Shankly, a name interwoven into the very fabric of our club, had tendered his shock resignation, citing the reason that, at the age of 60, he wanted to spend more time with his wife Ness and their family.
The fact he left the club on a high and in such capable hands speaks volumes for the man.
But how do you follow Bill Shankly?
The answer would be found within the mythical walls of his famous Bootroom, with the modest figure of Bob Paisley providing an almost seamless transition from coach to boss.
There is no doubt that Paisley’s era as manager would prove more fruitful than Shankly’s in terms of trophies won.
Some may also suggest that much of what Shankly achieved would not have been possible without Bob Paisley’s calm influence and knowledge of the game.
But it is equally likely that without the driving force and sheer charisma of Shankly, Liverpool’s spell in the doldrums in the 1950s would have reached long into the 60s.
And perhaps Bob Paisley would never have become manager at all.
The fact the club contrived to bring them together at all in those dark post war days, is something the fans will be forever grateful for.
Shanks may have left the club all those years ago, but his spirit will always live on, and when he died unexpectedly in September 1981 after suffering a heart attack, his loss was greatly mourned by both Liverpool and the football family.
In fact his good friend Sir Matt Busby was so upset when he heard the news that he couldn’t even answer the telephone that morning.
In the years following his resignation, to the disbelief of the fans, relations between him and the club he so loved had become somewhat strained. But there was no such problem on the terraces. In the first game at Anfield following his funeral, a huge banner was unfurled on the Kop which read ‘Shankly Lives Forever’.
Indeed, his spirit is just as strong at Anfield to this day, where a statue to the great man stands before his beloved Kop and the Shankly Gates bear the immortal words "You’ll never walk alone".
Certainly Shankly never walked alone and he is revered by all Liverpool supporters.
This was no better demonstrated than on December 18, 1999 when the 40th anniversary of Shankly’s arrival at Anfield was celebrated in a manner that took the breath away.
Nearly the whole of the 1965 and 1974 FA Cup winning teams came together to view the exhibition commemorating Shankly and then paraded onto the pitch, where they stood in silence as two bagpipers played "Amazing Grace."
12,000 voices on the Kop gently sang the word ‘Shankly’ to the tune as they held up a mosaic bearing his face and the Saltire. The version of "You’ll Never Walk Alone" that followed rivaled any previously heard before.
His legend will shine bright long into the new Millennium and the Reds will always be grateful to a man who altered our destiny forever.
to a journalist who suggested Liverpool were struggling – ‘Ay, here we are with problems at the top of the league.’
Talking to a reporter about Roger Hunt – ‘Yes Roger Hunt misses a few, but he gets in the right place to miss them.’
Explaining to Kevin Keegan what’s expected of him at Anfield – ‘Just go out and drop a few hand grenades all over the place son!’
‘I know this is a sad occasion, but I think that Dixie would be amazed to know that even in death he could draw a bigger crowd to Goodison than Everton on a Saturday afternoon.’ – speaking at the funeral of Everton legend Dixie Dean
‘If Everton were playing at the bottom of the garden, I’d pull the curtains.’
‘Sickness would not have kept me away from this one. If I’d been dead, I would have had them bring the casket to the ground, prop it up in the stands, and cut a hole in the lid.’ – after beating Everton in the 1971 FA Cup semi-final.
Addressing the Liverpool fans who turned up in their thousands to welcome the team home despite losing to Arsenal in the 1971 FA Cup final – ‘Chairman Mao has never seen a greater show of red strength.’
After signing Ron Yeats – ‘With him in defence, we could play Arthur Askey in goal.’
To Alan Ball after he’d signed for Everton – ‘Never mind Alan, at least you’ll be able to play next to a great team.’
To Tommy Smith after he’d turned up for training with a bandaged knee – ‘Take that poof bandage off, and what do you mean YOUR knee, it’s LIVERPOOL’S knee!’
To the players after failing to sign Lou Macari – ‘I only wanted him for the reserves anyway.’
To Ian St John – ‘If you’re not sure what to do with the ball, just pop it in the net and we’ll discuss your options afterwards.’
‘In my time at Anfield we always said we had the best two teams on Merseyside – Liverpool and Liverpool reserves.’
About the ‘This is Anfield’ plaque – ‘This is to remind our lads who they’re playing for, and to remind the opposition who they’re playing against.’
‘Of course I didn’t take my wife to see Rochdale as an anniversary present. It was her birthday amd would I have got married during the football season? Anyway, it was Rochdale reserves.’
Shankly to the Brussels hotel clerk who queried his signing ‘Anfield’ as his address on the hotel register – ‘But that’s where I live.’
Shankly explaining rotation to a reporter – ‘Laddie, I never drop players, I only make changes.’
Comparing the Anfield pitch to other grounds – ‘It’s great grass at Anfield, professional grass!’
‘The difference between Everton and the Queen Mary is that Everton carry more passengers!’
To a local barber, who in 1968 had asked ‘Anything off the top? Shanks retorted – ‘Aye, Everton!’
On awaiting Everton’s arrival for a derby game at Anfield, Shankly gave a box of toilet rolls to the doorman and said – ‘Give them these when they arrive – they’ll need them!’
‘I always look in the Sunday paper to see where Everton are in the league – starting, of course, from the bottom up.’
To Chris Lawler during a training session at Melwood – ‘Was it a goal? Was I offside?’ Lawler replied – ‘You were boss.’ Shanks then quipped – ‘Christ, son, you’ve been here four years, hardly said a word and, when you do, it’s a bloody lie!’
To Tommy Smith during training – ‘You son, could start a riot in a graveyard.’
‘There’s Man. Utd and Man. City at the bottom of Division 1, and by God they’ll take some shifting.’
‘It’s a 90 minute game for sure. In fact I used to train for a 190 minute game so that when the whistle blew at the end of the match I could have played another 90 minutes.’
On a wartime Scotland v England match – ‘We absolutely annihilated England. It was a massacre. We beat them 5-4.’
After losing to Ajax in the 1967 European Cup – ‘We cannae play these defensive continental sides!’
Shanks and Tommy Docherty were at a game. There was a player every other club coveted on view. Docherty said to Shanks – ‘100,000 wouldn’t buy him.’ Shanks retorted – ‘Yeah, and I’m one of the 100,000!’
What Shanks disliked about football – ‘The end of the season.’
Radio Merseyside reporter to Shankly – ‘Mr Shankly, why is it that your teams’ unbeaten run has suddenly ended?’ Shanks replied: ‘Why don’t you go and jump in the lake?’
On hearing a rival manager was unwell – ‘I know what’s wrong – he’s got a bad side!’
To reporters after a 3-0 defeat – ‘They’re nothing but rubbish. Three breakaways, that’s all they got.’
Talking about Tommy Smith – ‘If he isn’t named Footballer of the Year, football should be stopped and the men who picked any other player should be sent to the Kremlin.’
To a translator, when being surrounded by gesticulating Italian journalists – ‘Just tell them I completely disagree with everything they say!’
After winning the FA Cup in 1974 Shankly goes into a fish and chip shop and orders a fish supper. The woman at the counter asks – ‘Mr Shankly, shouldn’t they be having steak suppers?’ Shanks replied – ‘No lass, they’ll get steak suppers when they win the double!’
To the Anfield PA during a match – ‘Jesus Christ, son, can ye no’ talk into that microphone when the players are in the penalty box. You’re putting them off, you’re doing more damage than the opposition.’
Shankly on boardroom meetings – ‘At a football club, there’s a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques.’
Talking about the Liverpool fans – ‘I’m just one of the people who stands on the kop. They think the same as I do, and I think the same as they do. It’s a kind of marriage of people who like each other.’
Explaining on what the off-side rule should be – ‘If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be.’
‘I was only in the game for the love of football – and I wanted to bring back happiness to the people of Liverpool.’
‘"If you can’t make decisions in life, you’re a bloody menace. You’d be better becoming an MP!’
When told he had never experienced playing in a derby – ‘Nonsense! I’ve kicked every ball, headed out every cross. I once scored a hat-trick; One was lucky, but the others were great goals.’
After a 0-0 draw at Anfield – ‘What can you do playing against 11 goalposts!’
Waxing lyrical about Ian Callaghan – ‘He typifies everything that is good in football, and he has never changed. You could stake your life on Ian.’
‘Fire in your belly comes from pride and passion in wearing the red shirt. We don’t need to motivate players because each of them is responsible for the performance of the team as a whole. The status of Liverpool’s players keeps them motivated.’
‘Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.’
On the leaving of Liverpool – ‘It was the most difficult thing in the world, when I went to tell the chairman. It was like walking to the electric chair. That’s the way it felt.’
(taken from a last interview) ..below
During serious training a football player sweats. But you must still wear a sweater or top to train in, particularly if it’s a cold day. This is to cover and protect your kidneys. If you haven’t worn one, you must put it on as soon as training is finished to keep warm. Instead of stripping, training and showering at Melwood, eating there and then going home, we stripped at Anfield and went down by bus. When it’s pre-season and you are hot and perspiring, you don’t to be leaping into the bath five minutes after you’ve finished. If you do, you’ll sweat all day. After training I encouraged the boys to have a cup of tea and even a walk around. It takes 15 minutes or so to get to Anfield from West Derby. About 40 minutes would have passed from training until they actually got into the bath.
This is probably one of the reasons why we were always fitter than the rest. Most of the other clubs report directly to their training grounds, strip there and come straight off the pitch into a hot bath which I always disagreed with. Our lads never felt uncomfortable. They never had their lunch with sweat pouring off them. In my opinion, this was very important and a key part of Liverpool’s fitness. It actually prevented injuries from happening.
Footballers normally train for an hour and a half, but it doesn’t mean they work for an hour and half. Some might be demonstrating a function while the others are watching. And then it’s your turn. It’s not how long you train, but what you put into it. If you train properly, 35 minutes a day might do. We built Liverpool’s training on exhaustion and recovery with little areas of two-a-side, three-a-side and five-a-side in which you work like a boxer, twisting and turning. Training was based on basic skills, control, passing, vision, awareness. If you are fit, you have a tremendous advantage over everybody else. It’s important to try and give everyone a touch of the ball as quickly as possible once the match starts. If it comes to you, you chest it down simple and you roll it to your mate. It doesn’t look much, but it’s something. If you try to do something clever and it breaks down, it can take the confidence out of you. That’s not my way.
After all the training was complete on Fridays, we always had a talk about the impending game. All the players and subs attended. One of the staff would have watched the opposition and would bring their report in. All I wanted to know was the formation. Was it 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or whatever. And did any of the opposing players have any little characteristics we might want to stifle? I never ever discussed the opposition at length. The last thing you want to do is build up your opponents and frighten your own players. We might have been playing Manchester United that weekend, but I wasn’t going to be singing the praises of the opposition. I can remember overhearing one of the lads coming out of a meeting and saying: ‘Are Best, Law and Charlton not playing?’ That made me smile. In the main, we were only concerned about us and our collective approach. The message was: ‘Keep everything simple. Be patient, even it takes 89 minutes to score.’ The number of times we won a match at the death was unbelievable. And when you sneak one like that, it’s heartbreaking for the opposition.
I always tried to have a joke up my sleeve to boost our lads and knock down the opposition. We took our football seriously, but we always tried to get a laugh out of the team talks. And I would always keep a few bombs for Saturday. I might say to the old guy on the Anfield door: ‘Here’s a box af toilet rolls. Hand them to the opposition when they come through the door.’ Often I’d say it just as our opponents were walking in. We didn’t lose many, but when we did we were always ready to learn. We were always confident, but we were never over-confident. Being cocky is a form of ignorance. It means you are talking too much and if you are guilty of that, an opponent will bring you down to earth.
THE ART OF FOOTBALL
A football match is a like a relay race. We realised at Liverpool that you can score a goal by playing from the back. We learned this through playing the Latins in Europe. It might be cat and mouse for a while, waiting for that opening to appear. It’s all very simple really, but it’s effective. Improvisation! If your players can improvise and adjust to what’s happening, you’ve got a chance. It’s vital you conserve energy, making the opposition do all the chasing. When you play over 60 games a season you can’t afford to be running flat out all the time.
The system we devised was designed to confuse the opposition. And it was economical. You want everyone to do their share. The important thing is that everyone can control the ball and do the basic things. It’s control and pass – control and pass. If you delay, the opposition is all behind the ball. So you are looking for somebody who can control it instantly and give a forward pass. And that gives you more space. You see some teams playing and it seems as nobody wants the ball. They turn their back on on each other. But at Liverpool, there is always somebody to help you. That’s why Kenny Dalglish was an instant success. He came to a club and he had choices. Kenny was the kind of player who could exploit that kind of thing to the full.
So this is the secret. Get it. Give an early pass. Switch the ball around. You might not seem to be getting very far, but the opposition pattern is changing. And the space opens up for the final pass. All the players must understand that when they’ve delivered a pass, you’ve only just started. You have to back up and look to help somebody else.
THE MAGIC OF MELWOOD
In the early days I went down to Melwood every day for training. That lasted a season then I stopped going. Felt I was intruding. I still go to Melwood but only for a sauna and a bath, a dip in the Melwood’s magic waters. Melwood means more to me than any other part of Liverpool. It was where Liverpool was made. The first time I saw the place, an overgrown, neglected place it was too, I said to Ness, ‘I’m going to see Melwood reborn, cultivated.’ I did. Every inch of it. If someone took Melwood away from me….(the words faltered into silence).
"A LIVERBIRD upon my chest"…
("My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Napoleon had that idea. He wanted to conquer the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in.")
Liverbird upon my chest,
Here’s a song about a football team
The greatest team you’ve ever seen
A team that play total Football
They’ve won the league, Europe and all.
A Liverbird upon my chest
We are the men, of Shankly’s best
A team that plays the Liverpool way
And wins the championship in May
With Kenny Dalglish on the ball
He was the greatest of them all
And Ian Rush, four goals or two
Left Evertonians feeling blue
Now if you go down Goodison Way
Hard luck stories you hear each day
Theres not a trophy to be seen
‘Cos LIverpool have swept them clean
Now on the glorious 10th of May
There’s laughing reds on Wembley Way
We’re full of smiles and joy and glee
It’s Everton 1 and Liverpool 3
Now on the 20th of May
We’re laughing still on Wembley Way
Those Evertonians feeling blue
at Liverpool 3 and Everton 2
And as we sang round Goodison Park
With crying blues all in a nark
They’re probably crying still
at Liverpool 5 and Everton nil.
We Remember them with pride
Those mighty reds of Shankly’s side
And Kenny’s boys of ’88
There’s never been a side so great.
idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Napoleon
had that idea. He wanted to conquer the bloody world. I wanted
Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up
until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in.")