Compared to many of their Premier League rivals, Liverpool have been a bastion of managerial stability in the modern era. But as the dust continues to gather in the trophy cabinet, there's a lingering sense that the club have struggled to find the right man for the job.
Seven permanent managers have come and gone since Sky Sports invented football in 1992, and with Jurgen Klopp now settled in his role, the hope at Anfield is that he’ll go on to restore the Reds to their former glory.
But where does Klopp rank among Liverpool’s managers since the Premier League began? In this slideshow we rank all eight, from worst to best.
8. Roy Hodgson (July 2010 - January 2011)
Hodgson has resumed his role as English football’s favourite grandfather at Crystal Palace, but his six-month reign at Anfield was truly disastrous. When he arrived in summer 2010, the future England coach had just taken Fulham to the Europa League final; that was a tremendous achievement, but Hodgson couldn’t handle the step up to Liverpool.
Even in such a short spell on Merseyside, the damage Hodgson inflicted was almost unparalleled. Some of his signings – Paul Konchesky, Joe Cole and Christian Poulsen – were among the club’s worst in the Premier League era, while his failure to acknowledge an on-field malaise alienated supporters in record time.
7. Graeme Souness (April 1991 - January 1994)
Win Ratio: 41.4%
Trophies: FA Cup (1992)
Souness’ tenure in the Anfield hot seat is rarely looked upon fondly, but the hard-nosed former Reds midfielder deserves some credit for driving the club forward at a crucial stage. The squad he inherited after Kenny Dalglish’s resignation in 1991 was ageing rapidly, which necessitated an overhaul of that successful side from the 1980s.
The Scot put his faith in youth, bringing Rob Jones, Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler into the fold, and even won the FA Cup in 1992. But he also made mistakes in the transfer market, from Torben Piechnik and Istvan Kozma to his final signings of Neil Ruddock and Julian Dicks.
Souey’s mistake was trying to change things too quickly, and he soon learned going back to basics wasn’t a long-term solution. A great player, certainly, but by no means a great coach.
6. Kenny Dalglish (January 2011 - May 2012)
Win Ratio: 47.3%
Trophies: League Cup (2012)
The huge success King Kenny enjoyed during his first, pre-Premier spell in the Anfield dugout only made his underachievement second time around more painful. After the Roy Hodgson debacle the club asked their biggest legend to turn things around. Dalglish certainly did that, his caretaker spell steering them away from the bottom half of the table and earning him a three-year contract.
However he would only serve one full season, with mixed returns: winning the League Cup (the club's last trophy to date) but losing the FA Cup final and finishing in eighth, the club's lowest spot since 1994. Symbolically, early in his second reign he sold Fernando Torres to nouveau-riche Chelsea then signed the brilliant Luis Suarez and bumbling Andy Carroll.
5. Brendan Rodgers (June 2012 - October 2015)
Win Ratio: 50%
Rodgers was appointed as the face of Fenway Sports Group’s new era at Anfield, and was immediately blighted by invasive media coverage.
Yet aside from his caricature in Being: Liverpool, the Northern Irishman was an excellent manager for the majority of his three-year reign. He brought the Reds closer to the Premier League title than any of his counterparts, maximised the talents of Luiz Suarez, and oversaw the arrival of a host of key figures including Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge.
It's unfortunate that he's now remembered for a 6-1 defeat by Stoke almost as much as a 5-1 victory over Arsenal, but there’s no doubt Rodgers oversaw progress at Anfield.
4. Jurgen Klopp (October 2015 – present)
Win Ratio: 51.5%
The euphoria of Brendan Rodgers’ title tilt descended into a familiar misery within a year and a half, and Liverpool found the perfect tonic in the form of Klopp. Boasting genuine pedigree, pulling power and an inherent charisma to disguise his steely resolve under the media spotlight, the former Borussia Dortmund chief is without doubt the real deal.
Finishing eighth and fourth in the Premier League in his first two seasons in charge, however, makes it hard to place Klopp anywhere above the midway region for now. His best work, Liverpool fans hope, is yet to come.
3. Roy Evans (January 1994 - November 1998)
Win Ratio: 50.4%
Trophies: League Cup (1995)
The warmly avuncular replacement for Graeme Souness's Angry Stepdad, Evans brought a vibrancy back to Anfield, with his young side playing some of the league's most attractive football in the mid-1990s. This was hallmarked by what’s still held up by many as the best game since the top-flight’s rebrand: the 4-3 triumph over Newcastle at Anfield in 1996.
He also achieved decent finishes – fourth, third, fourth and third – which seem better in retrospect than they did when overshadowed by the towering standards of previous decades. But like many of his players, Evans’ reputation as a Liverpool manager is hamstrung by the failure to win the FA Cup in 1996, with the 'Spice Boys' unfortunately remembered for their cream Armani suits more than their achievements on the pitch.
2. Gerard Houllier (July 1998 - May 2004)
Win Ratio: 52.1%
Trophies: UEFA Cup (2001), FA Cup (2001), League Cup (2001, 2003), UEFA Super Cup (2001), Community Shield (2001)
The most decorated Liverpool manager of the Premier League era, Houllier initially joined Roy Evans in the dugout in summer 1998, taking over before Christmas as the club’s sole manager.
The Reds had fallen behind their rivals off the field by the time the 20th century drew to a close, but Houllier’s European ideals quickly forced them towards modernity. The Frenchman, who brought in the likes of Sami Hyypia, Stephane Henchoz and Dietmar Hamann, won five trophies in 2001 alone, but it’s his role in bridging the gap from Evans to Rafael Benitez that deserves most of the plaudits.
1. Rafael Benitez (May 2004 - June 2010)
Win Ratio: 55.4%
Trophies: Champions League (2005), FA Cup (2006), UEFA Super Cup (2005), Community Shield (2006)
Already a success with Valencia, Benitez was headhunted as the ideal successor for Gerard Houllier in 2004, and the Spaniard built sensationally on his predecessor’s groundwork.
Benitez’s crowning glory, of course, remains the Champions League triumph of 2005, but his work in sustaining the Reds as a European and domestic force (on a smaller budget than many of the clubs he was competing with) deserved an even longer list of honours.
For those with an attention span shorter than a Snapchat story, Benitez is now more renowned for his infamous “fact” rant and his demise under the ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Despite that, he remains the best manager Liverpool have had since the Premier League began.
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