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Liverpool's greatest ever managers - Where does Jurgen Klopp rank?

Ahead of Jurgen Klopp's departure from Anfield, Sports Mole takes a look at Liverpool's greatest ever managers.

Liverpool have been blessed with a plethora of talented and legendary players during their illustrious 131-year history, and a considerable amount of those have been fortunate enough to work under some of the club's greatest ever managers.

The appointment of a 22nd full-time manager appears to be edging ever closer, with Feyenoord's Arne Slot set to be the man tasked with filling the enormous shoes soon to be left by current Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.

At the beginning of this year, the bombshell news that every Liverpool supporter feared dropped, as Klopp announced that he would be vacating his Anfield post at the end of the season.

The 56-year-old German has delivered silverware and given Liverpool fans memories that will last a lifetime during his glittering nine-year spell at the club, but then again, so have a number of other iconic managers of the Merseyside giants.

Here, Sports Mole takes a closer look at Liverpool's greatest ever managers and takes on the sizeable task of selecting the top five in the club's history.


5. Joe Fagan (1983-85)

Joe Fagan pictured on May 14, 1983© Reuters

Joe Fagan may have only been in charge of Liverpool for two full seasons, but he was the mastermind behind one of the club's greatest ever campaigns and one of the most successful in English football history.

One of the founding members of the iconic 'Boot Room', Fagan played a fundamental supporting role to club icons Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley for a quarter of a century before he was appointed Liverpool manager in 1983. The Warton-born boss was adored by the Anfield faithful and his etched him name into Reds folklore when he became the first ever manager to lead an English team to a major treble in the same season.

Building on the success of his predecessors, Fagan was 63 when he successfully steered Liverpool to glory in the First Division, League Cup and European Cup, and he was subsequently named English Manager of the Year in 1984. Fagan also boasts the best winning ratio in European competition of any Liverpool manager (74% - 14 wins in 19 games).

Liverpool then came up short in almost every competition the following season, finishing second in the First Division, runners-up in the European Cup and Super Cup finals against Juventus, the FA Charity Shield to rivals Everton and Intercontinental Cup against Independiente, while they also reached the FA Cup semi-finals, before Fagan announced his retirement in the summer of 1985.


4. Sir Kenny Dalglish (1985-1991 & 2011-2012)

Kenny Dalglish pictured on October 14, 2017© Reuters

Fagan's successor was the one and only Kenny Dalglish, arguably Liverpool's greatest ever player who also excelled in the Anfield dugout during two managerial spells at the club, his first lasting for seven years before returning for a brief second stint in the early 2010s.

Nicknamed 'King Kenny' and regarded by many as the undisputed 'King of the Kop', Dalglish was a player-manager during his first spell in charge of Liverpool before hanging up his boots in 1990. The Reds were unable to continue their European success due to the Heysel disaster, but Dalglish led them to three First Division titles, two FA Cups and four Charity Shields on the domestic front.

The proud Scotsman became the first ever Liverpool manager to win the most prestigious double of a top-flight title and the FA Cup during his first season in charge in 1985-86, finishing two points clear of rivals Everton in the league before beating the Toffees 3-1 in the FA Cup final.

Dalglish's second spell at the helm was not as successful as his first, but when he was called upon to steady the ship following the dismissal of Roy Hodgson, he led Liverpool to their first League Cup for nearly a decade in 2012. Dalglish won just under 60% of his 381 games as Liverpool manager across all competitions and will forever be a club icon for his contributions as both a player and manager at Anfield.


3. Bob Paisley (1974-1983)

Bob Paisley pictured on January 1, 1982© Reuters

There is certainly a case for the order of our top three to be switched around, but in this instance, in at number three comes a true Liverpool great and the club's most successful manager when it comes to silverware - Bob Paisley.

Nicknamed the 'Quiet Genius', Paisley's association with Liverpool spanned across 44 years, starting off as a player before hanging up his boots in 1954 to join the backroom staff, beginning as a youth team coach, then working as an assistant to Bill Shankly, before replacing his fellow 'Boot Room' colleague as manager in 1974.

Paisley spent nine years at the helm and led Liverpool to a remarkable 20 trophies. Only Carlo Ancelotti (four) has ever won more European Cups that Paisley (three), who celebrated back-to-back success in 1977 and 1978 before beating Real Madrid 1-0 in the 1981 final to win for a third time.

The County Durham-born boss, who won 308 of his 535 games in charge of Liverpool, also secured six First Division titles, three League Cups, six Charity Shields, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup, while he also received a plethora of individual accolades, recognising his incredible work during his trophy-laden spell with the Reds, including six English Manager of the Year awards.

Three years after he passed away in February 1996, Liverpool unveiled a permanent tribute to Paisley in the form of the Paisley Gates outside the Kop at Anfield.


2. Jurgen Klopp (2015-2024)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp lifts the Champions League trophy on June 1, 2019© Reuters

After leading Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles, Jurgen Klopp was appointed Liverpool manager in October 2015 following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers, and it is fair to say that the German has been firmly taken into the hearts of Reds supporters having embraced the culture of both the club and the city during his legendary time in England.

Labelled as 'a God-like and transformative figure on Merseyside' by Jamie Carragher, Klopp has the highest win rate of any manager in Liverpool's history across all competitions (60.82%) and a victory in his final home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday would represent his 299th in his 491st and final match in charge of the club - only Shankly, Paisley and Tom Watson (1896-1915) have ever managed more games for the Reds.

The 56-year-old has won a total of eight major honours with Liverpool, including the 2018-19 Champions League and the Reds' first Premier League title the following season - ending the club's 30-year wait for top-flight glory. He has also celebrated success in the FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup, Community Shield and most recently won his second EFL Cup in February after beating Chelsea 1-0 after extra time.

Klopp could have won more silverware with the Reds, but they came up short on two occasions in the Premier League title race, despite collecting 97 points in 2018-19 and 92 points in 2021-22 - finishing just one point behind the juggernaut that is Manchester City on both occasions - while he also lost two Champions League finals, a Europa League final and an EFL Cup final.

Nevertheless, that should not take away anything from what Klopp has built at Anfield. Following several years in the wilderness, the Reds have transformed into one of most powerful clubs in European football under the tutelage of Klopp, who has implemented a revolutionary, swashbuckling, heavy-metal philosophy that has had Liverpool fans on the edge of their seats for almost a decade. Klopp is a charismatic, energetic character who will go down as both a Liverpool icon and as one of the managerial greats in English football.


1. Bill Shankly (1959-1974)

General view of a statue of former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly outside Anfield on August 15, 2022© Reuters

It is hard to imagine how Liverpool would have fared in years gone by without the monumental influence of Bill Shankly during his 14-and-a-half-year managerial reign at Anfield.

Born in the small Scottish village of Glenbuck, Shankly took charge of Liverpool back in December 1959 when they were competing in the Second Division for a fifth straight season. Within two-and-a-half years, the Reds secured promotion to the top flight as champions under Shankly, before he transformed the club into the 'bastion of invincibility' that he envisaged from the very beginning.

Anfield turned into a fortress and Liverpool became a force to be reckoned with, particularly on the domestic front, under Shankly, who steered the club to three First Division titles - the first won just two years after their promotion from the second tier - two FA Cups, three Charity Shields and one UEFA Cup. He won 407 of his 783 games in charge and was later inducted into the Football Hall of Fames for both England and Scotland.

Like Klopp, Shankly's career should not be defined by silverware alone. He may not have led the club to European Cup glory, but he was the man who laid the foundations in the 1960s that sparked years of glory at the highest level for Liverpool. He recruited players who eventually became club icons such as Ian St John, Roger Hunt and Kevin Keegan. He created the aforementioned legendary 'Boot Room' that inspired others to follow in his footsteps and maintain the club's position at the summit of English and European football.

Shankly, who has been honoured with a statue outside Anfield, was a messianic figure on Merseyside who developed a special connection with the club's fans and all Liverpudlians. His legacy is everlasting and he will forever be regarded by all those associated with Liverpool as one of, if not the, greatest manager in the club's history.


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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp lifts the Champions League trophy on June 1, 2019
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