Paisley's success did all the talking in golden era for reds

Book review - Alan Aherne

Quiet Genius
Quiet Genius

I'm not a Liverpool fan (Come On You Spurs), but as a child in the early 1980s it was hard to avoid the reds as they dominated football on the British and European stages.

The Anfield club played with a style and a swagger that made them very difficult to beat, and they seemed to be everybody else's favourite team when I was growing up.

The autobiography of one of their best players, goalgetting midfielder Terry McDermott, was reviewed in this column recently, and that book revealed that his party piece was to mimic the speech and mannerisms of manager Bob Paisley.

It seemed entirely appropriate then that I should pick up 'Quiet Genius' off the shelves last week, as it looks back on the life and times of a man labelled 'British Football's Greatest Manager' on the cover.

And that seems like an accurate assessment to me, certainly on the basis of titles won. Paisley was at the helm with Liverpool from 1974 to 1983, and during that period they captured an extremely impressive 14 trophies included three European Cups.

The strange thing was that this modest, unassuming native of County Durham never wanted the job in the first place.

He took a lot of persuading when he was asked to succeed the legendary Bill Shankly who decided to step down of his own accord in 1974.

Paisley had been one of the outspoken Scot's most valued assistants beforehand, and he was also physio to the Liverpool team after enjoying a long playing career with the club too.

In essence, he was a red through and through, but the shadow of Shankly hung over him for a while after he finally, and reluctantly, agreed to man the hot seat.

The ex-manager still turned up at the club's training grounds in Melwood for months after stepping down. Paisley realised that his good friend's presence would only serve to undermine him among the players, so Shankly was gently persuaded to keep his distance and actually ended up going to watch arch-rivals Everton training instead!

It was one of the first displays of authority from Paisley, and he grew into the role despite an aversion to public speaking and a dislike for confrontation of any sort with his players.

It's over 20 years now since the subject of this book passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's, and author Ian Herbert has done a very thorough job in piecing his life together.

The content isn't sugar-coated either, and he must be commended for that. Some of Paisley's dealings with players left a lot to be desired, but those episodes are recalled in as much detail as his long list of glorious successes.

He clearly had the uncanny knack of being able to spot the changes that needed to be made to overcome difficult situations on match day, and he knew the game inside out.

Naturally enough there's a lot of focus in the book on Liverpool's legendary boot room, the place frequented by Paisley and trusted lieutenants like Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans as they plotted and planned during the club's glorious era.

Paisley was the exact opposite to the reds' current motormouth manager Jurgen Klopp, leaving his achievements to speak for themselves.

I'm sure if most Liverpool fans had a choice between the two, they would opt for the reserved Englishman any day of the week.

This book gives a fascinating insight into what made Paisley tick, and you won't have to be a red to enjoy the content.

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