Sir Alex Ferguson vs Bob Paisley

Alex Ferguson and Bob Paisley. One for the Manchester United and another for Liverpool. Both had made the club winning titles after titles. Both also follow the foundation set by the club iconic manager for Sir Alex Ferguson it is Sir Matt Busby and for Bob Paisley it was Bill Shankly.  Today we will look at both of their managerial career.

How both of the started?

When Bill Shankly had laid the foundation for Liverpool including the famous boot room for Liverpool where any member of the coaching staff must be from Liverpool, Bill Shankly had announced his retirement upon the ending of the 1973-74 seasons. His had chosen his replacement Bob Paisley whom hesitated to be the next manager. Bob Paisley was all out Liverpool man where he had started as a player, physiotherapist, no 2 to Bill Shankly and Liverpool manager. Bob Paisley needs to be persuaded by the board and manager to be the next Liverpool manager.

Unlike Bob Paisley, Ferguson had started his managerial career in Scotland. At first he had started with East Stirlingshire FC where he had joined as part time manager in 1974. After this he moved to St Mirren as a manager for 4 years from 1974 to 1978. Then he had joined Abeerdeen where he truly makes himself as one of the upcoming manager in the game. With Abeerdeen he had broken the dominance of the old firm that is Ranger and Celtic and led to win the Cup Winners Cup in 1983 by beating Real Madrid team and also 4 Scotland League Title. Due to achievement with this team, he had been appointed as a manager of Manchester United in 1986 replacing Ron Atkinson.

Their Character.

Bob Paisley look like a gentleman old chap but he is one ruthless manager whom only believed that nobody is bigger than the team. He even had banned Bill Shankly from the training ground during his time as a manager. Even with his player he is ruthless where he never let any player get carried away with their success. Bob Paisley will changes his team with the right player example when Kevin Keegan left he had changed him with Kenny Daglsih whom later become one of the Liverpool greats and still have success for Liverpool.

As for Sir Alex Ferguson he is famous for his so called hairdryer treatment where he will shout to the player near their player face and he is also a famous disciplinarian. During this time in Scottish league many player from Gordon Strachan had fall to his hairdryer treatment. In the beginning of his Manchester United days he was so worried that player had succumbed to the alcohol and had a low level of fitness. With his ruthless, hairdryer treatment and motivation he had changed the team mentality differently and they had become runner up for Liverpool in 19887-88 season whom were dominant at that the time. In the years to come he kept on changing his team and had finally knocked the Liverpool of their perch. He had kept many players and had left many star players such David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole and many of them in his 26 careers. Who can forget when he changed his winning team of Andrei Kanchelsklis, Paul Ince , Mark Hughes and Lee Sharpe with 1992 youth team winner called as Fergie Fledgling and earn success after success in domestic and Europe. For Ferguson nobody is bigger than the club and everyone is entitled to give more 100 percent for the club.


For Bob Paisley it is always keep ball and keep on pressuring. When come in European game a more cautious approach will be taken and Liverpool had continued this way of playing until now. Maybe they is a slight changes in current Jurgen Klopp way of playing where it is more about the gegen pressing style but the cautious approach is still there for Liverpool. His team is well balanced team with Phil Thompson and Alan Hansen in the defense, Graeeme Souness as the combative midfielder, Daglish as the playmaker and later edition Ian Rush as the striker. His team can attack well and defend well. Paisley also a great motivator and the great example was in 1980-81 season where with his depleted and injured squad he led his team to knocking out Bayern Munich in 1981 semifinal and won the final that year. Paisley style in Europe led the foundation for the years to come and after Paisley had retired Joe Fagan his replacement also able to continue the success for Liverpool based on tactical foundation laid by Bob Paisley.

Alex Ferguson had tweaked his tactic several times in his Manchester United career. In the beginning Manchester United will always plays cavalier attacking football in the formation 4-4-2 with winger and continues the Manchester United tradition of playing with wingers. A more cautious had been taken by Ferguson after he had been knocked out by Real Madrid in 1999-2000 Champion Leagues. He had abandoned his favorites 4-4-2 to a more flexible 4-3-3 formation in later stages. With the addition of Christiano Ronaldo , Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez in 2007-2008 he had changes again his formation 4-6-0 with all Christiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney shifting and changes the position during playing. His also will emphasis in youth and will always provide youth a chances to earn a medal or playing time. He will not hesitate to changes an established player with a young team if they are good enough. He is a good motivator and able to handle any kind of character from Eric Cantona, Peter Schemeichael , Roy Keane, Gary Neville and many more. His team will able to fight until the very end and score many late goal in added time. It was coined as ” Fergie Time “. It was started when Steve Bruce scored 2 goal in injury time to bring back the Premier League to Old Trafford after 26 years. Since then United under him had scored several late goal included the famous 2 goals in 3 minutes in 1999 final to win Champion League.

Trophy Wins.

Bob Paisley had been the manager for Liverpool in 1974 and retired in 1982. A 9 years period saw Liverpool winning the English First Division Title 6 times, 3 League Cup , 3 European Cup , 1 UEFA Cup , 1 UEFA Super Cup and in total  he had won 14 titles. A remarkable achievement as he started at the age of 55. Imagine if he had been manager for longer they will be more accolades that will be won by him. Bob Paisley is the only manager to had won 3 European Cup with the some team. Carlo Ancelotti had equaled his record of 3 win but with a different team. The only cup missing is FA Cup as he not won the FA Cup during his managerial time. He nearly won the Treble but lost in FA Cup Final in 1978 to Manchester United. He also guided Liverpool to 2 consecutive European Cup in 1977 and 1978 and with this become the first English team do did this.

champions league 1978
Liverpool Winning the European Cup in 1977,1978 and 1981 under Bob Paisley

Ferguson had managed Manchester United in longer time than Bob Paisley. He had managed for 26 years and had won more than Bob Paisley. He had won 13 Premier League , 5 FA Cups ,2 UEFA Champion League title, 4 League Cup , 10 Charity Shield, 1 Cup Winners Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. By winning the Intercontinental Cup and FIFA World Cup they had become the first English team to win it a feat that Liverpool unable to achieve. He also had led them to become the first English team to win the treble in 1998-1999 seasons. In total Ferguson had won 38 trophies with Manchester United. He also had led Manchester United to be the top team in England with more domestic title than Liverpool. He is unable to equal Bob Paisley record as he become runner up twice in 2009 and 2011 as Manchester United was beaten Guardiola’s Barcelona arguably the best club team at that time.

Under Ferguson Manchester United won the Champion League in 1999 and 2008 and become runner up in 2009 and 2011

Who is better?

Bob Paisley had helped Bill Shankly to lay the foundation for Liverpool in being a successful team in 70’s and 80’s.  But Bob Paisley did not have many challenges during his time. Where his challenger during this time was Brian Clough Nottingham Forest, Don Revie Leeds United, Ipswish Town , Everton and Manchester United. Compare to Ferguson where the money and investment of foreigner in England as Chelsea was owned by Roman Abromovich, Manchester City owned by Qatari Sheikh Mansour, and Liverpool by American owners make the Premier League tougher. Ferguson had managed to changes his team, tweaking his tactics, buying the right players at a bargain prices and playing attractive football. Many times he was deemed finished by the media only for him to comeback stronger. He was challenged by many of top coaches like Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini,Mauricio Pellegrini, Rafa Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti. The foreign influx was less during the 70’s and 80’s. In term of European Cup where Ferguson have 2 and Bob Paisley have 3 . During 70’s and 80’s it was harder to qualify for the European Cup as you must be the domestic champion compare now but which less games it was much more easier to win . Many teams at those times had won the European Title consecutively due to this. In the 1977 when Liverpool won the trophy they only played 7 games and when Liverpool won the cup in 2005 they need to play 13 games to win the cup. Where the team was not seeded at those times the top team can be eliminated as early in the first round but now due to increase a wannabe champion must eliminate as many top team as possible and since it is seeded now the chances for the top team to be eliminated early is less. When Manchester United win the title in 1998-1999 season they need to knock out Inter Milan , Juventus , and beating Bayern Munich in the final. Where Bob Paisley have a great foundation when he managed Liverpool , Ferguson need to build a foundation for the team, revamping the youth system, discipline the players, curbing the alcohol culture and many more and make a dynasty is a phenomenal achievement. Due to this and his longevity, Sir Alex Ferguson is the best manager in England all time compare to Bob Paisley.







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