When you think of football’s greatest managers, some names automatically come to mind: Sir Alex Ferguson, Matt Busby, Pep Guardiola, Rinus Michels, Jose Mourinho, Giovanni Trapattoni, and Jock Stein. When you think of Liverpool, you have to think of Bill Shankly and his famous quotables. But you can’t forget Bob Paisley, who actually surpassed his predecessor in terms of hardware. Paisley’s Liverpool squads claimed 13 titles, including six First Division championships, three League Cups, three European Cups, and one UEFA Cup.
No one has really taken the time to properly profile Paisley and the work he did at Anfield. That is until now. Ian Herbert, one of Europe’s top football writers, absolutely nails it with Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football’s Greatest Manager.
The text is a lovely read of 300+ pages and breaks down Paisley’s life and career in the greatest detail. We really enjoyed the early part of the book where Paisley began making a name for himself and his unlikely rise to the top. It was quite remarkable to imagine that the Liverpool board members actually considered hiring someone else after Shankly departed. How would that have changed the history of Liverpool FC? We’ll never know.
Herbert captures Paisley’s story from every perspective and angle, giving you a feel for the times surrounding the events. That historical context is ever so important as we know football has changed. There weren’t billionaire owners and $263 million transfer fees back then. It was a simpler time and arguably the greatest era of football, a true golden age of sport.
Paisley was his own man, but respected those who came before him. He didn’t tear down the work of LFC’s previous managers; he built upon that foundation to make the club that much better.
He was one of the game’s early man managers, a person who garnered respect from those around him in a quite and endearing way. He was a football genius before the Special One.
This biography puts Paisley on the map once again and brings him into the discussion of being one of the world’s best football managers ever. Herbert deserves loads of credit for this as no other author could deliver a text as great as this. Kudos to Bloomsbury for yet another great football title and perhaps the top title of 2017.