The Complete Liverpool FC Managers History

The Complete Liverpool FC Managers History
By Eoin Harrington Updated

Liverpool FC are one of the most successful clubs not only in English football history, but also the continent of Europe. Several men have taken the role of Liverpool manager in the decades since the club was founded in 1892 - and we have the full breakdown of Liverpool managers history for you.

We have the history of every man to take charge of Liverpool FC and broken down questions such as the longest serving manager and the most successful manager in the club's history.

Read on to learn more about the coaching history of this great club...

Liverpool managers history

William Edward Barclay and John McKenna (1892-1896)

The first Liverpool manager - or, rather, managers - took charge of the club when it was founded in 1892. They divided sporting and administrative responsibilities between them, with John McKenna of County Monaghan taking charge of the team and Dubliner William Edward Barclay taking charge of the running of the club.

Quaintly, William Edward Barclay was also the first manager of Liverpool's cross-city rivals Everton.

Tom Watson (1896-1915)

Liverpool's longest serving manager in terms of years in the job, Tom Watson was the first manager to bring a league title to Anfield. Under Watson's leadership, Liverpool won the 1900-01 First Division title and, after being relegated, won the Second and First Divisions in successive years in 1904-05 and 1905-06.

Watson was in the Liverpool job for 19 years, before his death in May 1915. He is one of only four men to win the First Division title with two different clubs, having also led Sunderland to three league titles. Herbert Chapman, Brian Clough, and Kenny Dalglish join him in that club.

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David Ashworth (1919-1923)

After the break English football took during the First World War, David Ashworth took the reins at Anfield. He led Liverpool to another league title, but he was replaced mid-season in 1922-23.

Matt McQueen (1923-1928)

Matt McQueen was the first Scottish manager of Liverpool, and he would deliver a fourth league title for the club at the end of the 1922-23 season.

George Patterson (1928-1936)

Englishman George Patterson was in charge of Liverpool for eight years, but the club was in the midst of a spell without trophies, and he left the job in 1936 without delivering a single piece of silverware for the club.

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George Kay (1936-1951)

George Kay was responsible for the return of silverware to Anfield, winning Liverpool's fifth league title in 1946-47, and the FA Cup final in 1950, which they lost to Arsenal. His spell in charge would take in the stoppage in English football due to World War II, and he would leave six years after the war ended, due to health issues. He would sadly pass away just three years after leaving the Liverpool job.

Don Welsh (1951-1956)

Don Welsh holds the ignominy of being the first Liverpool manager to be sacked, after seeing the club fall to the Second Division in the 1953-54 season. He failed on two attempts to return the club to the First Division and was sacked in 1956.

Phil Taylor (1956-1959)

Phil Taylor endured a similarly unremarkable spell in charge of Liverpool as his predecessor, and left with the club still trophyless and playing in the Second Division. Luckily for the club, his successor was to oversee a dramatic change in the club's fortunes.

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Bill Shankly (1959-1974)

Statue of Bill Shankly outside of Anfield (Photo: Shutterstock)

Liverpool's longest serving manager in terms of games managed, and one of the most iconic figures in the club's history, Bill Shankly remains one of the great coaches in English football history.

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Shankly delivered Liverpool's first ever FA Cup crown in 1964-65 (and a second in 1973-74), as well as delivering three league titles. Shankly was also the first manager to lead Liverpool to European silverware, as the club won the 1973 UEFA Cup final against Borussia Monchengladbach.

READ HERE: How Bill Shankly Was Treated In Retirement - Compared To Alex Ferguson

Bob Paisley (1974-1983)

Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly stand together as the great managers of Liverpool's history but, when it comes to silverware, Paisley stands alone as the most successful manager in the club's history.

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In the space of just nine years in charge, Paisley delivered a remarkable six First Division titles, another UEFA Cup trophy, as well as three League Cups.

Crucially, he led Liverpool to their first ever European Cup crown in 1977, after once again beating Borussia Monchengladbach in a European final. In total, the club would win three European Cups under his stewardship. Paisley truly stands alongside the greats of English football managements.

Joe Fagan (1983-1985)

One of the best Liverpool managers also had one of the shortest spells in charge of the club. Joe Fagan had been a coach under Shankly and Paisley for over twenty years by the time he took the manager's job in 1983. He had served as Paisley's assistant for nine of those years, and he was to enjoy great success himself in charge of the Reds.

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He won an unprecedented Treble in the 1983-84 season, winning the First Division, League Cup, and European Cup. He remains one of only four English coaches to win the European Cup.

Kenny Dalglish (player manager, 1985-1991)

One of the best Liverpool players of all-time became one of the best Liverpool managers in the late 1980s. Scotsman Kenny Dalglish became player-manager after the departure of Fagan in 1985, and immediately delivered the club's first league-FA Cup double in 1985-86. Even sweeter was that Liverpool beat Merseyside rivals Everton in the Cup final and beat them in a title battle.

Dalglish would win another two league titles in 1987-88 and 1989-90, as well as another FA Cup in 1988-89 before retiring as a player in 1990 and leaving the manager's post a year later. Dalglish is fondly remembered both as one of Liverpool's greatest ever players and managers.

Ronnie Moran (1991)

Ronnie Moran had served as first-team coach at Liverpool for some years by the time Kenny Dalglish unexpectedly resigned from the job in February 1991. Moran took temporary charge for just ten games before club legend Graeme Souness took over in April.

He would once again briefly take temporary charge in 1992, leading Liverpool to the FA Cup final, which he assisted Graeme Souness in coaching.

Graeme Souness (1991-1994)

Graeme Souness, manager of Liverpool in the early 1990s (Photo: Shutterstock)

Graeme Souness was, similarly to Kenny Dalglish, one of the great Liverpool players of the greatest side in the club's history. He had played a pivotal role in the club's success of the 1970s and 1980s, and hopes were high he could replicate Dalglish's success in charge after his playing career ended.

It was not to be, as Liverpool slid out of contention for league titles, cup wins, and even European football. He only managed one trophy in charge of Liverpool, the 1992 FA Cup, and his time in charge was marked by the rise of bitter rivals Manchester United in the early years of the Premier League era.

Roy Evans (1994-1998)

Roy Evans was yet another manager who had begun their career as a Liverpool player, before being brought through the coaching ranks by Bob Paisley. When Souness departed in 1994, Evans took over in charge of the team.

He enjoyed more success than Souness, winning the 1995 League Cup and briefly contending for the title in 1995-96 and 1996-97. However, disappointing outcomes in both title races, as well as the 1996 FA Cup final, were ultimately the defining legacy of Evans' time in charge of the club.

Gerard Houllier (1998-2004)

Frenchman Gerard Houllier began life as Liverpool manager by sharing the job with Roy Evans in Evans' final months in charge of the club. When Evans resigned after less than four months of the shared job arrangement, Houllier took sole charge of the team.

He was to become the most successful Liverpool manager of the Premier League era hitherto, winning another Treble for the club in 2000-01 by winning the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup crowns.

Houllier suffered with health issues during his time in charge of Liverpool, requiring treatment on a heart condition in 2001. Despite this, with the assistance of Phil Thompson, he guided Liverpool to second place in the league that season, and another League Cup the following year after defeating Manchester United in the final.

Rafael Benitez (2004-2010)

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and captain Steven Gerrard after the 2005 UEFA Champions League final (Photo: Shutterstock)

Rafael Benitez had won the 2004 UEFA Cup with Valencia, making him the prime candidate to take over from Gerard Houllier at Liverpool when the Frenchman left by mutual consent that summer.

Despite taking over an unremarkable squad and failing to claim a top four spot in the Premier League, Benitez would lead Liverpool to an extraordinary fifth European Cup (and a first of the UEFA Champions League era) in remarkable fashion. Led by Steven Gerrard, Liverpool came from 3-0 down at half-time of the final against Milan to draw 3-3 and win on penalties.

Benitez would also lead Liverpool to the 2006 FA Cup, and mounted a title challenge against Manchester United in 2008-09. He left in the summer of 2010 after failing to seal Champions League football for the following season.

Roy Hodgson (2010-2011)

The esteem Roy Hodgson is held in in the English game is undoubtable, but his chance at one of the biggest club jobs in England wasn't his finest hour. He only lasted half the season as Liverpool manager, with Northampton Town knocking the club out of the League Cup in the third round, and the club sat 12th in the league table when he was sacked in January.

To date, Hodgson is the last Liverpool manager from England.

Kenny Dalglish (2011-2012)

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish at a pre-season friendly against Bray Wanderers in 2011 (Photo: Sportsfile)

'King Kenny' returned to the Liverpool job in January 2011 after the departure of Roy Hodgson. Despite winning the 2011-12 League Cup with the club, Dalglish only lasted a season and a half in the job after underwhelming results in the league and failure to qualify for the Champions League in two consecutive seasons.

Brendan Rodgers (2012-2015)

Brendan Rodgers at a pre-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers at the Aviva Stadium in 2014 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Brendan Rodgers was the man tasked with taking over from Dalglish, and made an immediate impression. His first season saw some improvements in the team's performances domestically, before a close run thing in his second season.

Liverpool were locked in a season-long title battle with Manchester City and Chelsea, one which they seemed destined to win until late slip ups against Chelsea and Crystal Palace allowed City to take the trophy.

Things weren't quite as rosey in 2014-15 and, early the following season, Rodgers was sacked by the club. He has gone on to enjoy success in charge of both Celtic and Leicester City.

Jurgen Klopp (2015-present)

Jurgen Klopp at the Aviva Stadium for a pre-season friendly against Napoli in 2018 (Photo: Shutterstock)

The turn in fortunes Liverpool have enjoyed in recent years can largely be put down to one man: Jurgen Klopp. The German manager took over in 2015 and has built an extraordinary team at Anfield.

In his first season, Liverpool beat his former club Borussia Dortmund to reach the 2016 Europa League final, which they lost to Sevilla. It would take a few years, but Klopp ultimately has brought a return of silverware to Liverpool.

His side won the Champions League in 2019, and have reached the final twice under his stewardship (losing to Real Madrid in 2018 and 2022). Klopp's biggest achievement is undoubtedly bringing the club's first ever Premier League title in the COVID-interrupted 2019-20 season. Klopp guided Liverpool to an 18-point winning margin as they utterly dominated the league.

Klopp has signed an extension of his deal through to 2026, meaning that Liverpool fans can dream of more success under the German manager.

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