Bob Never Gave Less Than 100%
By Albert Stubbins
One of my most enduring memories of Bob Paisley is of him relaxing in a steaming hot bath at Anfield after a hard fought game and discussing in detail the events of that match.
Of course nobody had an inkling in those days that the hard tackling midfielder from the North East would develop into the greatest football manager in English football.
But perhaps those of us enjoying the warm welcome of that bath should have gleaned something from Bob's after match comments. His remarks concerning a game were penetrating and accurate -- and surprising in as much as they came from a normally quiet and retiring person.
His deep thinking on football brought him the tremendous success of later years. Bob's modesty, of course, was well known. During a close season tour of North America by Liverpool a batch of exiled-reds in Toronto made a B-line for Bob, Billy Liddell and myself and Paisley abruptly disappeared. He disliked being recognized. When we met with him later he simply said, "I knew that Billy and you would take care of the autographs."
Along with his vast soccer knowhow, Paisley possessed what he considered a necessary part of any football manager's equipment -- a strong sense of humour. "There are times when frustration can seem to be everywhere and that's when you have to be able to raise a smile or manage a laugh."
As a player, Paisley left his sense of humour behind when he stepped onto a football pitch.
And it was no joke for the opposition when he took a throw in and heaved the heavy ball of those days clear into their goal mouth. It always put defenders under pressure. A ball winning midfielder, or half back, he supplied me with many an accurate pass through the middle, and when it came to distribution Bob had considerable respect for the passing ability of Phil Taylor, the reds cultured right half back.
Paisley told me: "In some situations, if Phil was clear on the right side of midfield I would give him a crossfield pass and leave it to him to thread the ball through the opposing defense. His passing was so accurate."
Paisley's love of accurate distribution showed in the way he insisted on inch perfect passing in his great European Cup teams. And it is carried on today in the Premiership by Liverpool boss Roy Evans.
The stamina and will to win were other vital ingredients in the outstanding teams developed by Paisley. And years before his managerial career I had potent proof of his great belief in a player giving everything he had during a game.
This was after Liverpool had one of their tough derbies against Everton at Goodison, and at the end of a gruelling 90 minutes I was immediately behind Bob as we climbed up the steps to our dressing room. Bob was utterly exhausted and progressed by putting a hand on each rail and literally dragging himself up the stairs.
Certainly during my playing career, I never witnessed anyone who gave more of himself during the 90 minutes which was why in later years the fans never saw a player who didn't contribute 100 percent in a Paisley team. If there was such a player he would never have kept his place in the side.
In fact, it has always been my belief that it was the success of the Liverpool team in Europe that prevented Bob gaining a success that always eluded him: winning the FA Cup. During one of the many conversations I enjoyed through the years with my former team mate, I asked Paisley if the strain of gaining outstanding success abroad hadn't interfered with Liverpool's efforts to lift the domestic trophy.
Bob pondered my question then finally said: "Yes when you are competing for everything, it's always possible to miss out on something."
Certainly assessing the career of Bob Paisley as player, trainer and manager of England's most successful team, and the record number of trophies he collected he won success that may never be achieved again by any other manager or club. And most of all, the character and integrity of Bob Paisley as a man will never be forgotten by those who knew him.