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Bob Paisley - Liverpool

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So I was looking at re-creating a system from a specific manager and have managed to settle on Bob Paisleys' Liverpool side, but I am really struggling to find any form of tactical analysis or description of his teams.

What I have so far is that 4-4-2 was the formation of choice with a patient passing build up but other than that I am stumped.

Anyone know of any good links or have more knowledge that could help me out?

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Terrific idea for a thread.

In this case, I would say the system is less important than the overall philosophy of play and the qualities of the players. Paisley was a great coach and tactician, but what he drew from Shankly was the idea that football is a player's game and that the right players don't need to be burdened by layer upon layer of tactical complexity.

The most important details for me would be good decisions, work rate, off the ball movement and teamwork throughout the team, vision in attack and plenty of aggression in midfield.

As far as the basic tactics: I would gravitate to fluid/counter with shorter passing, roaming and close down much more, maybe tighter marking as well. I would also use generalist roles, aside from maybe a box-to-box midfielder, but adapt them to the individual players.

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Terrific idea for a thread.

In this case, I would say the system is less important than the overall philosophy of play and the qualities of the players. Paisley was a great coach and tactician, but what he drew from Shankly was the idea that football is a player's game and that the right players don't need to be burdened by layer upon layer of tactical complexity.

The most important thing for me would be good work rate and teamwork throughout the team, vision in attack and plenty of aggression in midfield.

As far as the basic tactics: I would gravitate to fluid/counter with shorter passing, roaming and close down much more, maybe tighter marking as well. I would also use generalist roles, aside from maybe a box-to-box midfielder, but adapt them to the individual players.

Yeah a lot of what I read seemed to praise his ability to find and pick out talented players rather than a overview of a system.

They seem to be allowed to express themselves so would assume "be more expressive" is a must, I agree with the idea of fluid/counter as it will help with the patient build up play

From what I've read the wingers pushed up with the centre mids working hard up and down the pitch so bob-to-box would fit best. Aswell as on of the strikers coming deep to almost make a 4-4-1-1 at points of play.

My idea so fair in regard to roles are:

Gk-D

DR- FB-A

DC- CB-D

DC- CB-D

DL - FB-S

MR- W-A

MC - B2B -S

MC - B2B-S

ML -W-A

ST-DLF-S

ST-AF-A

Possibly make the wingers WM-A instead of W-A and change one of the CM to a different duty

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Their's not much I've ever been able to find on Paisley, but John Keith's book is probably the best I've seen, however not much tactical analysis in it. What is does contain however is Paisley referring to playing a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 (particularly whilst Steve Heighway was playing).

It's also worth pointing out that during his spell, Liverpool didn't have a tactic that you could nail down in FM terms for the whole period. It was obviously influenced by the players he had at his disposal, for example Keegan was different to Dalglish, Souness to Callaghan and so on. I'd say the only consistency in style was that his teams were most definitely "Passing" teams. I would suggest that it 's probably worth picking 1 season and going for trying to re-create that & it's generally accepted by most LFC fans that his 78-79 team was probably his best.

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Their's not much I've ever been able to find on Paisley, but John Keith's book is probably the best I've seen, however not much tactical analysis in it. What is does contain however is Paisley referring to playing a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 (particularly whilst Steve Heighway was playing).

It's also worth pointing out that during his spell, Liverpool didn't have a tactic that you could nail down in FM terms for the whole period. It was obviously influenced by the players he had at his disposal, for example Keegan was different to Dalglish, Souness to Callaghan and so on. I'd say the only consistency in style was that his teams were most definitely "Passing" teams. I would suggest that it 's probably worth picking 1 season and going for trying to re-create that & it's generally accepted by most LFC fans that his 78-79 team was probably his best.

I would say so myself even though I did not experience the 78-79 team first hand. That team had a world class goalkeeper in Ray Clemence, was watertight at the back, passed teams to death and were clinical up front. I had a thread on this six years ago but emigrated for a period shortly afterwards and couldn't really play FM.

Paisley and Fagan's sides (1974-85) were different to those of Dalglish's (1985-91) and I think most match going Reds at the time would probably recognise this fact. (I myself was only born in the early 1980s and can just about remember from 87-88 on, although the brilliance of the 'Brazilian' vintage of that season obviously went over my head being so young. I thought such brilliance and the results were normal! The knowledge I do have about the preceding period comes from DVDs, older Reds etc.)

Paisley and Fagan's sides incorporated the traditional pass and move philosophy. Paisley in particular, the supreme tactical thinker in the Bootroom, although he would never talk in terms of 'tactics' and like the rest of the Bootroom despised coaching jargon, absorbed this approach from European competition. A definitive change took place in Liverpool's style of play in Shankly's final season in 1973-4 when the side were knocked out of the old European Cup by Red Star Belgrade. The gung-ho British traditional style made Liverpool look naive against the clinical Red Star counter-attacks and the Yugoslavs' abilities to absorb pressure and keep possession. Liverpool adopted this approach from then on, combining it with the traditional hard working, hard tackling strong team ethic characteristics of British teams, Liverpool included up to this point, that Shankly so admired.

Out went the traditional hardman British centre-half of Tommy Smith, pushed out to right-back, and Larry Lloyd, in came Phil Thompson and Emlyn Hughes, both pushed back from midfield to bring a more thoughtful ball-playing approach to the positions. The Case- McDermott- Souness- Ray Kennedy midfield of 77- 81 was exceptionally creative and chipped in with a large share of goals, but it could also be ferociously ruthless and extremely hardworking. Souness combined both sides of this new approach to perfection. Another thing that was relatively unique about the Liverpool of the late 70s/ early 80s, was the absence of traditional British hit- the -byline wingers. Case and Ray Kennedy were creative, goal scoring although hard tackling and working midfielders who tended to cut in a fair bit. They were backed up with relatively adventurous full-backs in Neal and Alan Kennedy. In terms of forwards, Dalglish's arrival in the summer of 1977 to replace the departing Keegan and the emergence of Doc Johnson also led to a greater emphasis on passing, and less long balls towards Keegan and Toshack in particular. This is not to say that Shankly's and the early Paisley sides were some form of Wimbledon, they certainly weren't. But the later sides definitely took the pass and move philosophy to new levels. Fagan obviously persevered with this approach during his reign in 1983-5, given the success the club were experiencing domestically and in European competition.

My take on this would be:

GK-Clemence, Sweeper Keeper.

CD- Hansen, Centre Back (Defend)

CD- Thompson, Centre Back (Defend)

LB- Alan Kennedy, Wing Back (Support)

RB- Phil Neal, Wing Back (Support)

CM- Souness, Centre Midfielder (Defend)- More Direct Passes, Hard Tackling

CM- McDermott, Centre Midfielder (Attack)

LM- Ray Kennedy, Wide Midfielder (Support)- Get further forward

RM- Case, Wide Midfielder (Support)- Hard tackling

ST- Dalglish, Deep- lying Forward (Support)

ST- Johnson, Advanced Forward (Attack)

Very fluid, Counter, Shorter Passing, Press More, Higher Defensive Line.

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Ray Kennedy was more of a playmaker, retrained from centre forward and given a deeper role, i think he joined when toshak and dalglish were the main strike pair. A pretty interesting system for that time, grounded in discipline. They abandoned the direct style of Shankly for the possession style of play they were to become famous for, simple pass and move football.

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Wasn't Hansen more of a BPD?

i would of thought this too. Think I heard Ray clemence the other week talk about how good he (hansen) was at stepping out with the ball and using it well. Might be wrong here

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There was a great article on Paisley, including some good tactical stuff, in one of the back issues of the blizzard i was reading recently. I will see if i can dig out which one it was.

One major theme of Paisley was "simplicity" - He was not a fan of complex football thinking but prefered to focus on doing the simple things regularly and well.

Ray Kennedy was bought as a striker, but it was Toshak and Keegan upfront rather than Dalgliesh at the time i think, King Kenny didnt arrive unti 3 years later? Paisley apparently considered his conversation to midfield to be one of his most important ever moves.

There is also a lovely story from the other Kennedy - Alan. After a horrific performance on his debut apparently Paisley;s response was "they shot the wrong Kennedy.."

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Ray Kennedy was more of a playmaker, retrained from centre forward and given a deeper role, i think he joined when toshak and dalglish were the main strike pair. A pretty interesting system for that time, grounded in discipline. They abandoned the direct style of Shankly for the possession style of play they were to become famous for, simple pass and move football.

Agree Kennedy had a sweet left foot and would think either WP(S) or WM(S) would both work for him. BTW, Tosh and Dalglish never played together (AFAIK) - he was the last buy of Shankly before he retired with the initial plan of him replacing Tosh and playing with Keegan... Paisley had another idea :)

Shankly (as has been commented) had already moved to more of a pass & move style before his tenure ended. It's worth searching Youtube for a video of the 74 FA Cup final to see his side in action.

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My take on this would be:

GK-Clemence, Sweeper Keeper.

CD- Hansen, Centre Back (Defend)

CD- Thompson, Centre Back (Defend)

LB- Alan Kennedy, Wing Back (Support)

RB- Phil Neal, Wing Back (Support)

CM- Souness, Centre Midfielder (Defend)- More Direct Passes, Hard Tackling

CM- McDermott, Centre Midfielder (Attack)

LM- Ray Kennedy, Wide Midfielder (Support)- Get further forward

RM- Case, Wide Midfielder (Support)- Hard tackling

ST- Dalglish, Deep- lying Forward (Support)

ST- Johnson, Advanced Forward (Attack)

Very fluid, Counter, Shorter Passing, Press More, Higher Defensive Line.

I'd be tempted to have Alan Kennedy as WB(A) - as I recall he did get forward more than Neal. Hansen most definitely BPD at DCL and to degree Thompson too. Hansen read the game extremely well and would step out to intercept so possible BPD(S) would work for his role.

Souness I think should be DLP(D) in the MCL slot. CM(A) could work for Terry Mac and he did get forward a lot (he was even top scorer one season).

On the TI's, Paisley was always keen on maintaining the width of the pitch, so possibly Play Wider?

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Assume you meant BPD(X) nor BPD(S)...dont give SI any more ideas for abstract roles :D

ALan Kennedy was defo the most attacking of wing back roles - He was a converted winger and his goal in the european cup final showed how much he loved to get forward.

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This is a brilliant thread with some really good analysis. I think I'll try creating this with my Man Utd side.

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This is a brilliant thread with some really good analysis. I think I'll try creating this with my Man Utd side.

:eek::eek::mad:

Create it with Man Utd....dear lord, Bob would be turning in his grave :D

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Really interesting thread! I'm not a Liverpool fan but when I was growing up I always remember the teams under Bob Paisley as they seemed to win everything. From what I remember one of the most important things (as others have said) is to have central defenders who can pass the ball, and are comfortable with it because Liverpool always seemed to build up play from the back, so in some respects the defenders were actually quite attack minded.

Also when Ian Rush was there he was very much the main goalscorer, so I'd be tempted to go with a poacher to replicate that, because if I remember correctly he used to get all of his goals from well inside the box.

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:eek::eek::mad:

Create it with Man Utd....dear lord, Bob would be turning in his grave :D

:D I know. But Liverpool won everything back then and were very successful. Even as a United fan I can appreciate their quality.

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I'd be tempted to have Alan Kennedy as WB(A) - as I recall he did get forward more than Neal. Hansen most definitely BPD at DCL and to degree Thompson too. Hansen read the game extremely well and would step out to intercept so possible BPD(S) would work for his role.

Souness I think should be DLP(D) in the MCL slot. CM(A) could work for Terry Mac and he did get forward a lot (he was even top scorer one season).

On the TI's, Paisley was always keen on maintaining the width of the pitch, so possibly Play Wider?

Yes, I forgot that Ronnie Whelan said in his book that the Liverpool team he broke into in 1981-2 stretched the pitch as much as they possibly could.

Would using roles such as BPD (Hansen), DLP (Souness) and as has also been suggested WP(s) (Ray Kennedy) not conflict with a fluid approach? Specialized player roles become diluted in fluid systems? I don't disagree but would taking that approach not conflict with the 'secret' of Liverpool's playing style of the Paisley/ Fagan era, which was trusting top class players to figure out what needed to be done on the pitch for themselves and a loathing of over complication and micro- management?

Or maybe the Liverpool playing style of the mid 1970s- mid 1980s has been misinterpreted. The pass and move approach was not adopted for aesthetic reasons. In a nutshell, you have a better chance of scoring if you have the ball and the opposition cannot score against you if they have the ball. Football is less mentally exhausting if you have more of the ball but is physically exhausting if your chasing the shadows of some of the best players in the game. The Bootroom was clinically pragmatic, and Paisley more so than perhaps any of the truly great managers of the game. Therefore, Liverpool's approach was highly mechanical. The great sides grinded teams into submission with the accuracy of their passing and ceaseless work rate when not in possession.

Alternatively, rigid, counter, press more, higher defensive lines as a starting point with more specialist roles?

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Assume you meant BPD(X) nor BPD(S)...dont give SI any more ideas for abstract roles :D

ALan Kennedy was defo the most attacking of wing back roles - He was a converted winger and his goal in the european cup final showed how much he loved to get forward.

Sorry, yes BPD(X) - I was in work at the tme.

Didn't AK score a similar goal in a League Cup a Final too?

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Really interesting thread! I'm not a Liverpool fan but when I was growing up I always remember the teams under Bob Paisley as they seemed to win everything. From what I remember one of the most important things (as others have said) is to have central defenders who can pass the ball, and are comfortable with it because Liverpool always seemed to build up play from the back, so in some respects the defenders were actually quite attack minded.

Also when Ian Rush was there he was very much the main goalscorer, so I'd be tempted to go with a poacher to replicate that, because if I remember correctly he used to get all of his goals from well inside the box.

Rush didn't break into the first team until near the end of Paisley's reign, so I'd go with the previous suggestion of Johnson as the role to replicate. Also, I actually think casting Rush as a Poacher understates his ability.... probably more a CF(A).

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Just had a chance to catch up on this haha.

Im liking the chat that's got going and some good analysis from the looks of it. Everyone seems to be on the same lines other than roles.

With regard to Paisleys Liverpools "passing teams to death", could it be compared with a more of a tiki-taka style with lots of sideways passing then? Also to translate it into FM terms A fluid or very fluid system with lots of general rolls would fit in with this.

My idea is either counter/defensive, fluid, short passing, retain possession (unless that puts an overkill on passing), press more, higher line, tight marking (to help with closing down)

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It was not uncommon for the ball to be played across the back four waiting for the right opportunity, so I think Play out of Defence is a must.

I'm not convinced that Shorter Passing is actually needed & would tend to favour Retain Possession given the choice.

Counter/Fluid (poss VF) makes sense to me as do the pressing suggestions.

Otherwise I still think there needs to be something that ensure width is maintained.

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Rush is often put forward as the original "Defensive forward" - His closing down of defenders was massively different to how others played at the time.

Kennedy did score in a league cup final - 81 v West Ham. Ironically he actually hit that one with his right foot.

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Rush is often put forward as the original "Defensive forward" - His closing down of defenders was massively different to how others played at the time.

Yes - probably, although not in the FM defined role.

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Would need to rid the back pass rule to replicate Liverpool, play out of defence yes, mostly back to the goalkeeper when they were winning :-)

Good thread, I have a bit to add when I get time, bit young to remember Paisley unfortunately, remember from Fagan onwards well though.

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a stab based on the 78/79 team listed earlier... (ignore the players - using a spare slot in current save)

Counter/Fluid

etp0I51.png?1

Z7vtjpa.png?1

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It's interesting that this tread would pick up interest exactly when I decided to try my hands on creating working 442 tactic for the first time in my CM/FM playing history. And I would choose exactly Liverpool to do it with - 15.3 data update and no transfers in first window.

I was inspired precisely by the great Liverpool side of the Paisley/Fagan era, Sacchi's Milan and Italy NT WC 1994, plus my own preference to use possession tactics. Treads like this one and the one about Sacchi motivated me and gave some ideas to try.

I'm still at the really stage of the tactic and the season, so I'm still not completely settled on couple of roles. But here is what I've set up so far:

Control/Very Fluid

TIs: Retain Possession, Shorter Passing, Work Ball Into the Box, Play Out of Defence, Whipped Crosses, Push Higher Up, Close Down More, Prevent Short GK Distribution, Higher Tempo

SK-D = Mignolet (PIs: roll it out, distribute to CBs, slow the game down, pass it shorter, less risky passes)

WB-S = Johnson (shoot less, dribble less, pass it shorter)

WB-S = Moreno (same as above)

CD-D = Skrtel (pass it shorter, close down less)

CD-D = Sakho (same as above)

WM-A = Sterling (shoot less, dribble less, pass it shorter, close down more)

CM-S = Henderson (shoot less, dribble less, pass it shorter, cross less, roam from position, close down less)

CM-D = Gerrard (shoot less, dribble less, pass it shorter, close down less)

WM-A = Coutinho (shoot less, cut inside, pass it shorter, close down more)

AF-A = Sturridge (shoot less, pass it shorter, close down much more)

DLF-S = Balloteli (shoot less, dribble less, pas it shorter, close down much more)

The roles I've been switching and experimenting with are Coutinho's and Henderson's. I've been giving them playmaking roles (WP-A and DLP-S/RPM, respectively) to see what it does to their individual performances as well as the team's overall performance. Coutinho is deadly as WP-A - he has set up some nice goals with this roles. But I'm not liking the fact that I can't reduce the dribbling aspect of it. I'm thinking that it would be worth switching him to the role when I have problems opening up bunkered down opponents. I don't quite like the RPM role for Henderson -it hurts the possession aspect which I aim for with my tactic, though I like the aggressiveness of the role in terms of movement. The DLP-S roles is better and I like how it makes him distribute the ball and control the flow from deeper position but not too deep.

As for team settings, I've just been switching to Standard mentality once I'm up by 2 goals and want to control the match even more. I'm very happy how things are going so far at this early stage. I'm 5 league games and one CL game into the season, and I've won them all convincingly. The highlight has been a 8-0 trashing of Man United at Anfield - I'm sure Paisley would've happy with that, as well as all the Liverpool faithful.:):D However, I'm yet to test the tactic against a strong team away from home. So I'll see what happens then, it would be a big test.

a stab based on the 78/79 team listed earlier... (ignore the players - using a spare slot in current save)

Counter/Fluid

etp0I51.png?1

Looking at this, I would think you would want to switch the sides of the CM-A and DLP-D.........

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Looking at this, I would think you would want to switch the sides of the CM-A and DLP-D.........

It's a stab at the 78/79 team where Terry Mac played MCR and Souness MCL, so doing that would be inaccurate I believe.

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I wouldn't get overly hung up on centre left/ right. Your tactic will be more balanced with a central attacking midfielder on the opposite side of a deep lying forward. Former will have more space to attack, latter more space to drop off into.

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It's a stab at the 78/79 team where Terry Mac played MCR and Souness MCL, so doing that would be inaccurate I believe.
I wouldn't get overly hung up on centre left/ right. Your tactic will be more balanced with a central attacking midfielder on the opposite side of a deep lying forward. Former will have more space to attack, latter more space to drop off into.

That's what I was thinking and I'm sure that Terry Mac, Souness and Paisley wouldn't mind either.;):)

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Actually I disagree for another reason. The CM(A) should run into the space left by the DLF dropping off.

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Anyhoo..... it's all theoretical as not actually using it. Interested to see what others come up with :)

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I'm at work just now, but looking to post what I came up with later.

Using Everton (wanted a more average team) played pre season and 2 league games, one of which I beat arsenal 5-2.

Will give more analysis when I post screenshots and play afew more games.

How do I post screenshots btw? Iv forgotten

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How do I post screenshots btw? Iv forgotten

Upload them to a hosting site (I use www.imgur.com) then copy & paste the Forum link url into your posts at the appropriate point.

HTH

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