Liverpool is one of the teams in Europe known for its attacking football. Thanks to its talented players and experienced tacticians, the club has enjoyed an excellent past by winning dozens of trophies in England and European competitions. Liverpool managers' history comprises familiar names who transformed the team into one of the best sides globally.
Many coaches dream of managing great clubs like Liverpool. The Reds have had 21 different full-time managers since its establishment in 1892. Some coached the club for years, while others lasted briefly before being sacked. So, who are the best Liverpool managers of all time?
Liverpool managers timeline
William Edward Barclay and John McKenna were the first to manage the club in 1892. Currently, Jurgen Klopp is in charge of the squad. The German tactician has won more trophies than previous Liverpool managers.
Who is Liverpool's greatest-ever manager?
The legendary Bill Shankly ranks as the club's best coach. He coached between 1959-1974 and guided the Reds to their first-ever FA Cup title in 1964-65. Shankly also delivered three league titles and the UEFA Cup. He is the tactician who has managed more games for the Reds (783).
Liverpool FC managers' history and achievements
Many managers have lent their valuable services to the club. Some won multiple titles, while others were left trophyless and devastated. We, therefore, break down a list of Liverpool managers and the trophies they won during their tenure.
21. William Edward Barclay and John McKenna (1892-1896)
The duo took charge of the club when it got founded in 1892. John McKenna took over the team, while William Edward oversaw the club's operations.
- Division two Championships (1894, 1896)
20. Tom Watson (1896-1915)
Watson is Liverpool's longest-serving manager in terms of years on the job. He was the first tactician to win a league title with the club. The former manager died in May 1915 after serving 19 years in the club.
- League titles (1900-1901, 1905-1906)
- Division two (1904-1905)
19. David Ashworth (1919-1923)
Ashworth took over the club after the First World War. He helped the Reds overcome the impact of the war by winning one league title. However, the club replaced him in the mid-1922-23 season.
- League title (1921-1922)
18. Matt McQueen (1923-1928)
Matt McQueen was the first Scottish to coach Liverpool. He replaced Ashworth in the mid-season and helped the club retain the league title.
- League title (1922-1923)
17. George Patterson (1928-1936)
Patterson coached the Reds for eight years but failed to win silverware for the club. He is one of the most disappointing tacticians in the club's history.
16. George Kay (1936-1951)
George Kay restored the club's reputation by guiding them to their fifth league title in the 1946-1947 season. He also took the team to the FA Cup final in 1950 but lost to Arsenal. World War II halted Kay's reign. Unfortunately, the legendary tactician died three years after leaving Anfield.
- League title (1946-1947)
15. Don Welsh (1951-1956)
Welsh was the first Liverpool manager to get sacked following a poor campaign that saw the club fall to division two in the 1953-1954 season. His attempts to return the club to the top flight failed, leading to his sacking in 1956.
14. Phil Taylor (1956-1959)
Taylor's dreams of ending the club's misfortunes failed after three years of trying his tactical plans. Instead, he left the Reds trophyless in division two.
13. Bill Shankly (1959-1974)
Shankly is one of the most iconic figures in English football history. He is also considered the best Liverpool manager ever. The legendary tactician transformed the club, guiding them to the top division. He won the team's first-ever FA Cup, three league titles, and the first UEFA Cup.
Shankly is one of the most iconic figures in English football history. He is also considered the most outstanding Liverpool manager ever. The legendary tactician arrived as a blessing to the club, guiding them to the top division. He won the team's first-ever FA Cup, three league titles, and the first UEFA Cup.
- Division two (1962)
- FA Cups ( 1964-1965, 1973-1974)
- League titles (1964, 1966, 1973)
- UEFA Cup (1973)
12. Bob Paisley (1974-1983)
Bob Paisley is the most successful Liverpool manager, with 14 titles he won during his nine-year tenure. Paisley guided the team to its first European Cup title in 1977. He coached some of the club's legendary players like Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Graeme Souness, and Ronnie Whelan. Bob Paisley ranks among the best Liverpool managers since 1980.
- League titles (1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983)
- League Cups (1981, 1982, 1983)
- European Cups (1977, 1978, 1981)
- UEFA Cup (1976)
- European Super Cups (1977)
11. Joe Fagan (1983-1985)
Joe easily tops the list of the best Liverpool assistant manager in history. He served under Shankly and Paisley for over twenty years, and the club won almost everything. In 1983, he earned a promotion to head coach, guiding the Reds to a treble in the 1983-1984 season.
- League title (1984)
- League Cup (1984)
- European Cup (1984)
10. Kenny Dalglish (player-manager, 1985-1991)
Kenny Dalglish replicated his success as a player for the club in his coaching career. He became a player-manager in 1985 and guided the club to FA Cup victories and league triumphs. Daglish retired in 1990 and coached for another year before exiting. Many consider him one of Liverpool's greatest-ever players and managers.
- League titles (1986, 1988, 1990)
- FA Cups (1986, 1989)
9. Ronnie Moran (1991)
Moran was appointed caretaker following the departure of club legend Kenny Dalglish. However, he only managed ten games before another icon Graeme Souness took over in April 1991. Ronnie joined Graeme's technical bench as an assistant.
8. Graeme Souness (1991-1994)
Graeme Souness helped the club to win titles in the 1970s and 1980s as a player. However, his career in the dugout turned out differently. Under his tenure, the club only won the FA Cup and fell behind bitter rivals Manchester United.
- FA Cup (1992)
7. Roy Evans (1994-1998)
Roy Evans also began his career as a Liverpool player during Bob Paisley's tenure. He hung his boots and returned to the club as manager in 1994, replacing Souness. Evans lost the 1996 FA Cup final to Manchester United and fell short in the 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 league title races.
- League Cup (1995)
6. Gerard Houllier (1998-2004)
Houllier took charge of the team in 1998 after his co-manager, Evans, resigned. He won the club a treble in the 2000-2001 season. Unfortunately, the Frenchman suffered health issues in 2001 but continued to guide the club until 2004.
- League Cup (2003)
- League Cup (2001)
- FA Cup (2001)
- UEFA Cup (2001)
- European Super Cup (2001)
- Charity Shield (2001)
5. Rafael Benitez (2004-2010)
The Spaniard is among the most respected people in the club's history. He helped the Reds with their fifth European Cup in a dramatic fashion. The club pulled a historic comeback from a 3-0 down at half-time against AC Milan to draw 3-3 and win on penalties.
- Champions League (2005)
- FA Cup (2006)
4. Roy Hodgson (2010-2011)
Roy Hodgson is a popular English manager who has successfully coached many teams. However, his stint at Liverpool only lasted half a season following a disappointing campaign. The Reds dropped to 12th in the league table under his watch before he got sacked in January.
3. Kenny Dalglish (2011-2012)
The legend returned to his favourite club in January 2011. Kenny Dalglish won the League Cup but failed to qualify for the Champions League. Unfortunately, his second tenure as manager lasted a season and a half.
- League Cup (2012)
2. Brendan Rodgers (2012-2015)
Under Rodgers, the Reds regained their strength and competed for top titles. The Northern Irish manager led a talented group comprising Steven Gerard, Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, and Raheem Sterling.
Rodgers was the Liverpool manager in 2013 and 2014 when the club came close to winning their first league title since 1990. Unfortunately, they slipped in the final games, losing 2-0 to Chelsea at Anfield, and blew a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Crystal Palace. Rodgers got sacked in 2015, becoming the last Liverpool manager before Klopp took charge.
1. Jurgen Klopp (2015-present)
Klopp's signing was a breath of fresh air to a club that has struggled for years without lifting main titles. The German tactician built a great squad that reached the 2016 Europa League final before losing to Sevilla. He guided the Reds to Champions League victory in 2019 and finished runners-up twice (losing to Real Madrid in 2018 and 2022).
The club also dominated the 2019-2020 season and won the Premier League with an 18-point margin. Klopp extended his contract with the club to 2026, giving Liverpool fans hopes for more success.
- Champions League (2019)
- UEFA Super Cup (2019)
- FIFA Club World Cup (2019)
- Premier League (2020)
- League Cup (2022)
- FA Cup (2022)
Looking at the Liverpool managers' history in this article, it is evident the club has enjoyed the services of some of the best football tacticians. The Reds have a unique style of play and always go for coaches who understand their culture.
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