Posts Tagged ‘Ferguson’

David Moyes Has Gone, Time For Sir Alex To Follow Suit!

by Rob Shepherd.


Time ran out for Moyes – but shadow of Fergie made it impossible to move forward

Sir Alex Ferguson has regrets over how David Moyes was sacked and the manner of his fellow Scot’s dismissal should be a warning that his own days at the club may be numbered…

Ferguson’s role as an influential director and ambassador is now likely to be downsized at the very least in the wake of Moyes’ departure. Fergie might have argued Moyes deserved the dignity of a bit more time but if he did offer such advice it fell on deaf ears.

The Glazers, United’s American owners, may be ready to sideline Ferguson as they look to rebuild the club and perhaps should have addressed the situation sooner.

After choosing Moyes as his successor, Ferguson didn’t do him too many favours and not just in terms of leaving an ageing squad behind.

There is a feeling among the Glazers and some board members that Ferguson’s Long Goodbye lasted, well, too long, and sections of the support are of the same opinion.

Mistakes that were made in the early 1970s after Sir Matt Busby stepped down have been replicated despite assurances there would be no repeat and Ferguson cast a shadow over Moyes the way Busby did to Wilf McGuinness and then Frank O’Farrell.

Ferguson did not have as much direct involvement in the day-to-day running of the club after his abdication compared with Busby but he has been sitting in the stands, often caught on camera grimacing as his old empire crumbled before his eyes.

You get the impression that some of the players were just waiting for him to scamper down the steps, storm into the dressing room, turn on the hair dryer and get things back on track. No doubt on days when players bumped into him they would still refer to him as the gaffer.

There can be no doubt Ferguson’s physical presence around the club had a psychological effect on the players, many of whom appeared to stop playing for Moyes.


Sir Alex didn’t do David Moyes a lot of favours with his presence and actions after retiring.

Then of course there was the high-profile impact of Ferguson bringing out his autobiography so soon. Why couldn’t he have waited a year or so rather than cause such disruption and controversy in the early days of Moyes’ reign?

Then there’s the frequent public appearances for lucrative fees. It’s not as if Ferguson needs the money or has anything to prove and basking in his past glories surely intensifies the pressure on his successor.

At a time when Manchester United needed the manager who had brought so much success to the club for 27 years to be selfless, the golden farewell engagements went on and on. Surely it would have been better all round had Fergie melted into background. Stayed away even, in the way that Pep Guardiola did after leaving Barcelona.

That is what must happen now and in all likelihood a new manager will demand it. Certainly it appears Ferguson will have a limited influence on an appointment the club must get right if they are to avoid going into the wilderness.

It was only when Tommy Docherty managed to make sure Busby was pushed firmly into the background that the club started the long process of re-inventing itself after relegation from the top flight.

Sport/Football, 1973, Tommy Docherty, Manchester United Manager with the former Manager Matt Busby

Docherty had to escape from Busby’s shadow

‘Relegation’ from the Champions League this season is in many ways more of a blow to the club now than it was dropping out of the old First Division in 1974. Certainly from a financial point of view with the loss of up to £80million in revenue equating to annual interest payments the Glazers pay on financing the debt.

It’s a massive call for the club to make as they seek to attract over £200million worth of new talent and it will be done, rightly or wrongly, with the Glazers putting on their corporate hats.

There is no longer any room for romance in seeking Fergie’s counsel in the guise of the Godfather from Govan.

Indeed, one suspects the board will prefer to see Ferguson spend most of his time in the coming months lecturing at Harvard business school again, not loitering around Old Trafford.



Scotland Says Goodbye To Sandy
Rangers Legend Loses Battle with Cancer Aged 65

sandyjardine_1823793aby Rob Shepherd.

Sir Alex Ferguson has led tributes to Rangers and Scotland footballer Sandy Jardine, who has died at the age of 65.

The European Cup Winners’ Cup-winning full-back was among the Ibrox side’s most decorated servants and played 38 times for his country.

Jardine – who was also named Scotland’s player of the year at the age of 38 during a stint as joint manager of Hearts – was diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago. He is survived by his wife Shona, children Steven and Nicola as well as several grandchildren.

Sir Alex, a former Rangers team-mate, said: “From Cathy and I, this is some of the worst news we have heard.

“Sandy was a noble and courageous man. The respect he is held in at Rangers is immense.

“He was one of the greatest players ever to wear the jersey. To Shona and family, we express our sympathy and sadness.”

Jardine played more than 600 times for Rangers, winning three league championships, five Scottish Cups and five League Cups. But the finest moment of his career was undoubtedly Rangers’ 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup final victory over Dynamo Moscow in Barcelona.

Jardine made his Scotland debut against Denmark in 1970 and played in all three group matches during the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany, where he and Celtic’s Danny McGrain were voted the competition’s best full-backs.

He also featured in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina and captained Scotland on nine occasions.

Rangers boss Ally McCoist said: “There have been many great names associated with Rangers Football Club in our 142-year history and Sandy is a Rangers legend in every sense of the word.

“We are all devastated with the news he has passed away. We have lost a great man today.

“I had the privilege of watching Sandy playing for Rangers when I was a young boy, I had enjoyed the pleasure of working with him closely since I returned to the club in 2007 and he was a truly remarkable human being.

“He was respected not only by Rangers fans but also the wider football community and he is a huge loss to the game. We will never see his like again in the modern era.”

Sandy Jardine 1948 - 2014

Sandy Jardine
1948 – 2014

Don’t Abandon Hope!
Learning a Lesson from Manchester United’s Past

by Richard Bowdery.

With David Moyes gone and Manchester United out of the Champions League for the first time in 20 years, many of the club’s fans could be forgiven for thinking the rot has set in, regardless of who the board appoint as Moyes’ replacement.

But before they get too despondent they would do well to consult some of their older fellow fans.

Six years after lifting the European Cup at Wembley in May 1968, the Red Devils found themselves starring down the barrel of relegation at the end of the 1973/74 season.

This demise followed the success of Sir Matt Busby’s 25 year reign. During his time at the helm across three decades he achieved tremendous success.

• In the 1946/47 season, the first following the Second World War, United were runners up to Liverpool in Division One. It was their highest league position for 36 years.
• His 1948 side lifted the FA Cup for the first time in nearly 40 years.
• During the fifties United were crowned League champions on three occasions: 1951/52, 55/56 and 56/57. Sadly the Munich disaster in February 1958 put paid to any further honours – although they were runners up in that year’s Cup Final, won by Bolton Wanderers and in the League the following season.
• They lifted the Cup again in 1963 beating Leicester City 3-1.
• The 1964/65 season saw them crowned League champions pipping Leeds United on goal difference and again in 66/67.
• In 1968 United famously trounced Benfica 4-1 (after extra time) in that year’s European Cup Final at Wembley. Busby had rebuilt the club to reach the pinnacle of European football a decade after Munich.

In 1969 Sir Matt, who had been knighted the previous year, retired. After nearly three decades of success many of United’s fans could be forgiven for wondering whether the club’s success would continue; much as when Ferguson retired.

Two new managers, Wilf McGuiness and Frank O’Farrell, came and went in quick succession – with Busby temporarily steeping back up to the plate between their two short reigns.

In 1969 Wilf McGuinness took over from Sir Matt Busby and endured a torrid time at Old Trafford.

In 1969 Wilf McGuinness took over from Sir Matt Busby and endured a torrid time at Old Trafford.

Then Tommy Docherty was hired but he couldn’t halt the club’s slide into Division Two on 27 April 1974.

The irony of that season defining game was when old boy Denis Law, released by Manchester United the previous July and signed by Manchester City, back heeled the only goal of the game in the 81st minute.

He didn’t celebrate and was immediately substituted. That was the last time he kicked a ball in ‘anger’ and he retired from the game he’d served so well.

He was later reported as saying after the game: “I have seldom felt so depressed in my life as I did that weekend”.

He needn’t have felt so bad as a 0-0 draw would have still sent United down which is probably why their fans invaded the pitch five minutes before the end of the game in the hope of getting it abandoned.

Although referee David Smith did in fact abandon the match the result was allowed to stand and Manchester United were relegated.

Twelve years later a Scot, like Sir Matt Busby, took the manager’s helm when United’s board fired Ron Atkinson. And like his successful predecessor he too reigned for over a quarter of a century.

So whatever the short term woes Manchester United will have to endure, history shows that in the longer term the good times will once again grace the Theatre of Dreams.


Alex Ferguson:
“My Autobiography”

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN : Hardback : 978 0 340 91939 2
E Book : 978 1 848 94863 1

It is without doubt the football book of 2013.

It is indeed one of the best football books of all time.

In terms of global sales it is already blockbuster – but unlike so many autobiographies this one has sold not just because of the big name, it is has sold so well because it is underpinned by big content too.

Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography is not just a gripping read; it is a must read.
On the day of its publication it caused a furore in the Salman Rushdie league.
Sensational headline followed sensational headline as the juicy paragraphs slamming Beckham, Keane, Liverpool, The FA et al were ripped from the pages.

But in most cases the context was lost.

3d_alex_ferguson__AutoThere are many football books which after they have been plundered by the press aren’t worth buying because essentially you’ve read it all. This is not this case with Fergie’s book which has been impressively ghosted by Daily Telegraph sports writer Paul Hayward.

Paul does not confuse matters by trying to add too much flowery prose or gild the lilly. When you read this book it’s as if you are sat by the fireside of a grand drawing room in a winged leather chair facing Fergie similarly sat, sharing a glass of fine red wine or single malt whiskey and listening to the Big Man tell it as it is. And you don’t want to leave.

Although it is an autobiography, Fergie’s early years are skated over, since that part of his life are covered in a previous tome “Managing my Life” which reached it’s climax when Manchester United won the Champions League in 1999.

That said, I would still have liked to have read a bit more about Eric Cantona and Bryan Robson.

Nevertheless the book takes the reader on a fascinating journey from the turn of the Millennium to Ferguson’s retirement in May with Manchester United crowned Champions again.

The chapters on David Beckham, Roy Keane and Cristiano Ronaldo are utterly compelling.

Although he tears Beckham apart for “selling out to celebrity” it is not just the character assassination as was depicted when the newspapers first got hold of the book.

The same goes with Keane. There is context – although ultimately his appraisal of the Irishman is damning.

In contrast Ronaldo is lavished with praise.

There are also many rich anecdotal asides. For instance Ferguson points out Ryan Giggs only won five penalties in a 20 year career because the player refused to go down. Perhaps Giggs ought to take a firmer hand now he is a coach at the club…

But it is far more than just a book about Fergie’s unparalleled success at Manchester United. It is a book that gets to the heart and soul of football and how much it has changed since he started out as a young manager at St. Mirren in the Seventies.

It is a must read for every football supporter who wants to see the bigger picture …even those other Reds, Liverpool fans.

BB Rating: 10/10

By Rob Shepherd.

Fergie’s Original Red Devils
Looking back at United’s first sticker album squad of the SAF era

This should bring back some memories; Here is the first Panini squad of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Manchester United.

Although he took over the previous year, the season of 1987-88 was his first full season in charge and therefore his first in United’s colours in a Panini sticker album.

A quick glance down the left hand column and you’ll see that under ‘Honours’ United had a paltry seven league Championships to their name at the time, the last of which had been won over 20 years previous.

Nobody could have foreseen what was to happen at Old Trafford under the stewardship of Sir Alex. Not even the most optimistic United devotee could have imagined their team would usurp Liverpool’s total of 18 league titles under the Scotsman’s guidance.

However United and Ferguson would be made to wait for that first Championship; the season of 87-88 would see United finish as runner-up to Liverpool who won the title by 9 points.

United would finish back in 11th the following season, 13th the year after that, then 6th before finally challenging again in 1991-92, being pipped to the post by Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds United.

It’s hard to imagine United sticking with David Moyes if his first 4 and 3/4 seasons ended in a similar fashion!

Looking through his squad for 87-88 though its easy to see why they were up there – with the likes of McGrath, Whiteside, Strachan, Robson, Olsen and McClair in their ranks.

But am I the only person who thought Peter Davenport looked more like an accountant than a top flight footballer…?

ManUtdPanini1 ManUtdPanini2

 Big thanks to the guys at Stickipedia once again for their help with this.


Ferguson Unveiled at Old Trafford: Goes on to become longest serving manager in English football (almost!)

Manchester United’s Greatest Signing?

by Richard Bowdery

On November 6th 1986 a lone Scot journeyed south on a mission to set up a one man dynasty in the heartland of the ‘auld enemy’. He came, he saw, he conquered and became a legend.


Alex Ferguson is unveiled as the new boss at Old Trafford by Chairman Martin Edwards in November 1986

For it was on this day that Alex Ferguson arrived at Manchester United to fill the vacant managerial seat. His journey had taken him from a string of Scottish clubs including a very successful stint as manager at Aberdeen. His impact there caught the eyes of United’s board who were ready to jettison Ron Atkinson.

But it could have been so different if Wolverhampton Wanderers had got their way. In 1982– with the club heading towards the trap door of the old Division One – they approached Ferguson about succeeding the manager John Barnwell. Ferguson declined their offer.

An even more audacious approach was rumoured when Liverpool were said to be considering him for the role of Liverpool manager following Joe Fagan’s decision to retire at the end of the 84-85 season. That job eventually went to Kenny Dalglish.

Over the next 27 years he and the Red Devils exceeded all expectations (except probably his and the team’s own). Look away now if you are from the blue side of Manchester.

League Title winners;

1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013

FA Cup winners;

1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004

Football League Cup winners;

1992, 2006, 2009, 2010

FA Charity/Community Shield Winners;

1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011

European Cup winners;

1999, 2008

FIFA Club World Cup;


UEFA Super Cup;


European Cup Winners Cup;


Of course he does have other claims to fame. He was knighted and is now a Sir. He engaged in diplomacy by entering into an entente cordiale with Arsene Wenger. He repelled a Spanish Armada that had settled near the Liverpool Docks during the reign of Rafael Benitez and he even tried to prove, unscientifically, that a football boot could fly.

But can he claim the crown as the longest serving manager in English football..? It seems not…

That crown must go to Jimmy Davies who, at the age of 71, stepped down as manager of Waterloo Dock AFC in the Liverpool County Premier League after 50 years in charge.


Jimmy Davies reflects on his long, trophy-laden career as manager of Waterloo Dock

When he first took up the reins in 1963 the Beatles recorded their first album, Please Please Me.

He has also out-gunned the former Manchester United manager on the Trophy front too; winning 70 to Fergie’s 37.

Apart from length of tenure and trophy’s won, does he have anything else in common with Sir Alex..?

His response was quite down to earth: “I don’t think Fergie gets involved in washing football kits like my wife does” he said.

And if you think this is a wind-up let me point out that (a) this isn’t April 1st and (b) Jimmy Davies has been verified as England’s longest-serving manager by the FA.

And they have one other thing in common; They both retired from football management in May this year.

Happy retirement Jimmy. Oh and you too Sir Alex!


Fergie’s Tales of The Unexpected Did SAF Give Credit Where it Was Due..?

By Rob Shepherd.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s new book is not only a best-seller it has caused a media frenzy. Bizarrely some journalists are even complaining Fergie has been a bit too frank. Talk about killing the goose that lays golden eggs…

Yes, the timing of publication could have been better given it casts a shadow over successor David Moyes so soon into his reign. Then again; why not get it over and done while Moyes at least has a bit of his honeymoon period left..?

Rarely has an autobiography of any sort, let alone a soccer one, attracted such interest and inspection.

When the book was launched and Ferguson held court at a press conference in London’s Pall Mall, it was akin to listening to a sermon front the Mount: The Gospel according Fergie as the Manchester United manager of 27 years responded – sometimes sharply – to questions on the big issues he had raised.

Fergie lifted the lid on why David Beckham had to go, how Roy Keane lost the plot, his loathing of Liverpool and Rafa Benitez, his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo, why he turned England down twice…..

The explosive revelations went on and on, there was barely enough space on the sports pages the next day to cope with the headlines.

Credit Due..?

Yet in the feeding frenzy one name was distinctly absent from scrutiny.

He will be in there somewhere of course and it will be fascinating how much credit – or otherwise – Ferguson pays to this player who more than any other shaped the silverware laden years (38 trophies) of The Fergie Era which began in 1986.

Eric Cantona.

ERIC CANTONAManchester United FC and France InternationalUniversal...

Cantona brought confidence and a swagger to United that had been missing

While home-grown players Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes were major and pretty much constant themes through the glory years, it was the Frenchman Cantona, to borrow a line from Ian Drury, who was the catalyst who sparked a revolution.

Remember, when Cantona joined United in December 1992 they had yet to win a league tile under Ferguson.

The previous season Cantona had in fact been a major influence on a different United winning the last Divison One championship when he was at Leeds.

When Cantona arrived United were in contention but looked as though they would blow it again.

By the end of the season they had landed the first Premier League tittle, United’s first top flight success in 26 years.

Cantona turned a very good team into what would become a great one.
He added a different dimension to the side not just in the way he played but with his attitude.

Confidence bordering on arrogance is often the characteristic of champions. Cantona had it in spades.

Cantona injected that type of confidence into a highly talented United team that had at crucial times been pitted with self-doubt. He did so with supreme skill and style counterpointed by brooding menace and sometimes raw aggression.

Cantona’s goals and guile shaped United not only for that season but even after he retired five years later.

In many ways even if there were language barriers it was Cantona, the rebel from Marseille, who understood and interpreted the message Ferguson, the rebel from Glasgow, was trying to put across to the rest.

They had much in common. Deep thinkers and readers they were rebels with a common cause.

Ferguson spoke at length about Cantona in his first autobiography 14 years ago true enough. But Cantona’s part in the United story in Ferguson’s success remains vital.

Phone Call

And all this from a player who Ferguson HADN’T even considered buying.

To remind you: The shock £1.2 million move from Leeds United came about because LEEDS chairman Bill Fotherby had rung United asking whether they could buy left back Dennis Irwin from them.

Ferguson said no. But a few days later rang back and asked if Cantona was available.

At the time Mark Hughes and Brian McClair had been in erratic form. Summer signing Dion Dublin had broken his leg. Bids to sign David Hirst, Matthew Le Tissier and Brian Deane had all failed.

Fotherby informed manager Howard Wilkinson, who much to the chairman’s shock agreed to sell his maverick striker.


Fergie can’t believe his luck pinching Cantona from Leeds

So, Cantona, L’enfant Terrible as he had been known during a troubled time in his native France, became Un Devil Rouge and to the United fans would become Eric The King.

In this second autobiography Ferguson inevitably pays a lot of attention to events since the Treble season of 1999, a year after Cantona had departed. And as he has shown there are plenty of tales to tell.

He points out that Cristiano Ronaldo is the most talented player who has played under him in his years at United.

But in the grand scheme of Ferguson’s golden reign as Manchester United manager Eric Cantona remains the most significant player – as shown below;

The Maine Road Massacre – 23rd September 1989

by Karl Hofer.

The demolition of United by Vincent Kompany and company sets a familiar tone. In recent years derby wins for City, whilst not being a regular occurrence, have often been spectacular; amongst Citys’ nine victories in the last 25 years we’ve had a 6-1, a 5-1 and a couple of 4-1’s.

Here we recall one of those gems – Affectionately referred to as ‘The Maine Road Massacre’ by fans of City, and it took place 24 years ago today;

Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United, 23rd September 1989.

This was the first Manchester derby in three years, and newly promoted City’s fans were at melting point in anticipation . The game was a fairly even one before the players were taken off the pitch because of crowd trouble, emotions were clearly running at their highest.

And when they players returned, it was City that ran riot, with David Oldfield, Trevor Morley and Ian Bishop putting City three up, before Mark Hughes scored a spectacular scissor kick to briefly give United hope of a fightback. Maine Road was already shaking at its very foundations after Oldfield’s second of the game restored the three goal cushion – and then City fan Andy Hinchcliffe added the fifth.

Rising to meet David White’s cross, he dispatched a header past the helpless Jim Leighton to make it five-one in front of the dejected United fans. Seizing the opportunity to install himself as something of a City legend, he then gleefully brandished five fingers at an elated Kippax Stand. Twice.

The star of the day was the Australian-born Oldfield, he had been bought by City boss Mel Machin for a modest £600,000 from Luton Town the previous season. He went on to make barely two dozen appearances before he joined Leicester City in a swap deal for Wayne Clarke, a move set up by Howard Kendall who had since taken over the reins at Maine Road.

What made it all the worse for United was their investment in the quartet of Gary Pallister, Neil Webb, Paul Ince and Mike Phelan who had all arrived in the summer, it made the whole day all the more embarrassing for a team expected to mount a serious title challenge.

Said Ferguson after the game: “Every time somebody looks at me I feel I have betrayed that man. After such a result you feel as if you have to sneak around corners, feel as if you are some kind of criminal.”


Ian Bishop takes the acclaim after making it 3-0

In an interview with The Scotsman years later, Archie Knox, Ferguson’s assistant at the beginning of his time at Old Trafford, recalled the trauma it caused.

“I think Alex said he felt like going home and putting his head in the oven. That’s it. It was a disaster. After games, we were parking our car under the stand and leaving through the laundry and that kind of stuff. There was a bit of that going on. It affected him.

“He says he became a bit of a hermit and, aye, he went into his shell round about that time. We weren’t maybe as close socially as we had been. I was trying to get him out for a drink but he didn’t want to.

No doubt the defeat hurt United, but Sir Alex Ferguson used the pain to good cause. ‘The Maine Road Massacre’ as it became known would be the last time City managed to beat United for 13 years. History indicates that those in doubt of David Moyes’ credentials for the job should bite their tongue for a while longer at least.

United and City would both finish in the bottom half of the table that season, but United won the FA Cup, the first piece of silverware Sir Alex would win with United, but not by any means the last…

David Oldfield, now 42, used to run the reserve and under 18 teams at Peterborough United alongside Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex. He is now in charge of the development squad at West Bromich Albion.


Eamon Dunphy
“Sir Matt Busby and Manchester United: A Strange Kind of Glory”

Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd

It was never going to be a smooth ride succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.

And already there are rumblings of discontent even if much of it is from those only to be pleased to stoke up things a little and create an impression things are already going wrong at OT.

Much has been made about the lack of activity in the transfer market until the last seconds. There was the always doomed chase of Fabregas, the Wayne Rooney saga and mutterings from RVP about changes on the training ground.

DunphybookMaybe to counter act some of the flak David Moyes has now said he needs to shake up the club’s scouting system.

The pressure on Moyes succeeding Fergie The Godfather draws obvious comparisons with how the club coped – or didn’t – when Matt Busby abdicated at the end of the Sixties.

A transition that was designed to be seamless was far from it as Manchester United unravelled from a club who had won the European Cup in 1968 to become one which was relegated from the top flight in 1974. Such a decline was unthinkable back then, but it happened.

Eamon Dunphy’s ‘Sir Matt Busby and Manchester United: A Strange Kind of Glory’ offers a fascinating insight into the club’s decline of the time and takes the reader through the seeds of recovery that Ferguson started to sew at the end of the Eighties.

And of course it examines just what made United the club it became, taking the reader from the very start of the Busby era in 1945; with authoritative detail of the Busby Babes, Munich Air disaster and the rise from the ashes to the height of the Swinging Sixties.

The book is further helped by the fact that Dunphy was a young player at the club at the end of the Fifties and start of the Sixties and so adds a fantastic personal touch and has unique access to some of the players of the time where he gets underneath the skin of the true relationships between Best, Charlton and Law.

It’s not just a book for United fans, but every football fan who wants to understand the roots of the club and what it was all about before the commercial era took hold. One thing is certain now, given how the landscape has changed and their financial muscle, United won’t go down the pan as dramatically as they did back then.

BB Rating: 9/10

Paisley shocks Merseyside with retirement announcement

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

On the face of it Bob Paisley was not your stereotypical top-flight football manager. He wasn’t media friendly, wore a flat cap to work and bore none of the charisma exhibited by other managers of the time such as Brian Clough and Malcolm Allison.

He was also burdened with the scepticism many had about his ability to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Bill Shankly. Indeed Paisley himself was reluctant to step into Shankly’s shoes.

Fast-forward nine season to 26th August 1982 when he announced that the 82/83 season would be his last as manager of Liverpool FC and you could hear the tide turn in the Mersey such was the shock.

For Liverpool fans everywhere realised the truth of Kenny Dalglish’s words when the Liverpool star said: “There was only one Bob Paisley and he was the greatest of them all…There will never be another like him.”

His record over those nine seasons stands head and shoulders over most other managers not just in England but wherever the game is played.

European Cup winners: 1977, 1978, 1981

UEFA Cup winners: 1976

League championship winners: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983

League Cup winners: 1981, 1982, 1983

Charity Shield winners: 1974, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1982

Manager of the Year: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983


But when Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager of Manchester United in May 2013 started a debate as to who was the greatest British manager of all time, I wonder how many put ‘Uncle’ Bob Paisley at the top of their list?

Perhaps today we look too much at image rather than substance. For many Paisley was like your favourite uncle. He didn’t rant and rave, he didn’t class himself as the special one – long before Jose Mourinho claimed the title. He simply turned up for work and got down to the business of turning eleven fit, skilful young men into world beaters. And he did it again and again.

Even there he had his detractors. There were those who said his success came from inheriting Shankly’s team, forgetting that as Shankly’s assistant Paisley had a great say in how that team was constructed.

And Shankly wasn’t the only one in the Liverpool camp with witty one liners.

For instance, when one Saturday after Shankly had retired Paisley was asked by a reporter what the former Liverpool manager was doing that afternoon he replied: “He’s trying to get right away from football. I believe he went to Everton.”

What would he have made of the debate after Ferguson’s retirement earlier this year about who was the greatest England manager? Personally I don’t think he would’ve got involved. He didn’t need to. He’d simply opened his trophy cabinet and point. Enough said.

That was Bob Paisley; a book with success written on every page, if you bothered to look beneath the cover.

By Richard Bowdery