Bill Shankly’s legacy and influence is one that is felt from his time as manager right up to the present day, as he is immortalised in Scouse songs about historic teams and trophies.
The work and impression that Shankly left on Liverpool cannot be under-estimated. While his successor Bob Paisley collected more silverware in his time at the helm, Shankly is for many, the greatest ever Liverpool manager. The club's current success, their philosophy, and the “boot room” which produced leaders long after his departure left a lasting legacy.
Shankly’s influence reached beyond the eleven on the field, as his close relationship with the fans elevates him to legendary status. Known to reply personally to letters from the Anfield faithful and reach out to fans seeking tickets directly, Shankly’s personal touch meant so much.
Birthplace Glenbuck, Ayrshire
Date of birth 02/091913
Date of death 29/091981
Playing career Carlisle United, Preston North End, Scotland
Teams managed Carlisle United, Grimsby Town, Workington, Huddersfield Town, Liverpool
Turning things around
Joining Liverpool from Huddersfield on Monday 14th December 1959, Liverpool were at a low ebb. The Reds had been in the Second Division for five years, with Anfield in disrepair and the training ground at Melwood “a shambles” in Shankly’s own words. There was work to be done.
Shankly’s motivational qualities, combined with his close relationships with Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Reuben Bennett of the coaching staff, formed a unit that would turn around the fortunes of the club, on and off the field. The repurposing of an old storage room into what became known as the fabled “Boot Room”, a place where tactics and plans were discussed, while cleaning and repairing boots. Melwood was developed, facilities modernised and training structures revolutionised. This became known as “The Liverpool Way”.
In his own words
Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.
A return to the top flight
After two consecutive third-placed finishes in the Second Division, Liverpool returned to the top flight in 1961-62, as they lifted the Second Division title. After a season of consolidation, Shankly led Liverpool to the 1963/64 First Division title, finishing four points clear of Manchester United and ending the season with a 5-0 defeat of Arsenal at Anfield.
A year later he realised one of his great ambitions when joining Liverpool by lifting the FA Cup, keeping a promise to the club directors that by investing in Ron Yeats and Ian St. John, he would win the FA Cup with them in the team. True to his word, it was in-fact Motherwell native St. John who netted the winner in their 2-1 extra-time victory over Leeds United.
The remainder of his time at Liverpool saw him lift two more First Division titles, a second FA Cup and a first European trophy for the club, as they lifted the 1972-73 UEFA cup, defeating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2 over two legs.
Shankly’s legacy is woven into the fabric of Liverpool. From the enduring legacy of the Boot Room, to even the “This Is Anfield” in the tunnel, touched by players from St. John to Salah. Shankly’s foundations are fundamental from then, until now, and forever.
Honours as a Manager
Football League First Division
Football League Second Division
FA Charity Shield