When Bill Shankly arrived to take charge of Liverpool on New Year’s day 1960 Liverpool were a team trapped in their past. The last of their five championships had come in 1947.
A loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup Final three years later was the only achievement of note in a desert of poor performances and declining standards.
Relegation had come in 1954 and Shankly’s predecessor Phil Taylor had left after failing to achieve promotion. It might not have seemed like it at the time but Shankly had two advantages over Taylor.
The first was that expectations had been driven down to such a low level that a place amongst the top 22 in England was definable as a major success.
Secondly Shankly saw potential in the football club that others either did not see or were blinded to through frustration created by failure.
Shankly understood that he if Liverpool was to fully realize the potential then he had to not only build and motivate a team but he had to inspire a belief in the fans and unleash a passion that few could match.
Shankly achieved both in spectacular fashion. When he left in 1974 he bequeathed his successor Bob Paisley not only the foundation of a successful team but a culture within the club and the city that was unmatched.
The Shankly ethos stood Liverpool in great stead through Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish. Others may have won more trophies than Shankly but without Shanks there would not have been a successful Liverpool Football Club.
Looking back over the Shankly years you realize that, as with other great managers and leaders, he was a great manipulator of minds.
He told players they were great, he told the fans they were the best, and when that was combined with his eye for a player and a highly quotable quip everyone started to believe him.
Especially the supporters – throughout the years there has always been the fans.
Read any comments after a Liverpool article, read a Liverpool forum, speak to a Liverpool fan and it still resonates.
We are special; we are Shankly’s sons, daughters, grandchildren.
That is until now.
It’s not the clowns burning Liverpool shirts with Torres emblazoned (now literally) on the back that has been embarrassing and shameful – such idiots exist at any club and media fools are only too willing to accommodate them with pictures and footage.
It has been the reaction in newspapers, on television, on websites and in blogs. Torres, a bona-fide Anfield hero at this time last week has been vilified, maligned and disparaged all inside a few days.
Torres is a lazy player, Torres is always injured, Torres will never score 20 goals in a season, he is easily bullied out of a game, he sulks and lots more and few as pleasant.
Notwithstanding that Liverpool in the glory years would have never sold a star player to another English club (Keegan went to Hamburg, Rush to Juventus) you can’t help but feel that over the last few days that Liverpool fans are no longer special, they are no longer different.
After nearly four decades has the Shankly Legacy finally withered and died?
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