LFC Managers - Premier League era

LFC Managers - Premier League era

Roy Evans

Nationality : English
Date Appointed : January 1994
Date Left : November 1998
Games Played : 244
Games Won : 123
Trophies Won : 1

Roy Evans began his love affair with Liverpool Football Club at the age of 7, when he attended his first game at Anfield.  As he grew older he went on to represent England Schoolboys before joining Liverpool as an apprentice in 1965.

Evans made his full debut in 1969, going on to play three games in the 69/70 season.  During the next few years Evans made occasional appearances at left-back in Bill Shankly's all-conquering team.  After Shankly's shock retirement the new manager Bob Paisley persuaded Evans to retire from playing in 1974, and at only 25 years of age, to direct his talents towards coaching.  Roy Evans thus became the youngest member of the legendary "Boot Room".  At the time, the then Chairman, John Smith, predicted "We have not made an appointment for the present, but for the future.  One day Roy Evans will be our manager."  Twenty years later he would be proved right.

Upon joining the "Boot Room", Evans was appointed Reserve Team coach, where he won the Central League Championship an incredible seven times in nine years.  Upon Joe Fagan's rise to manager, Evans was appointed to the senior coaching staff, where he was to play a significant role in the great triumphs under both Fagan and later Kenny Dalglish.  He was appointed assistant manager to Graeme Souness, but after Souness failed to deliver the title, Evans was eventually appointed Liverpool manager during the 93/94 season.

A complete opposite to Graeme Souness, Evans brought a calming influence to the club, which it desperately needed after the Souness era.  The new Chairman, David Moores, described Evans as the "last of the Shankly lads".  Evans appointment was a popular one amongst the fans, who saw in Evans a return to the old style of management employed by Shankly and Paisley.

Sadly for Evans his players never quite delivered for him on the pitch.  Despite an abundance of talent and many new young players (many of which Evans had helped to nurture and mature) the team failed to deliver the League title, although under Evans the team never finished lower than 4th.  The League Cup triumph in 94/95 was to be Evans only major success.

A pivotal moment in Evans managerial career saw Liverpool take on Man Utd in the 1996 FA Cup Final.  Had Liverpool won the game it may well have been the boost that Evans and Liverpool needed to mount a serious title challenge.  In reality Liverpool's performance on the pitch was poor, but it was the players white Armani suits that caused the most controversy, with many of Liverpool's leading players being labelled as "Spice Boys", implying that they put money and status above their performances on the pitch.

By the start of the 98/99 season the Liverpool hierarchy had run out of patience and appointed French manager Gerard Houllier to work alongside Evans.  Although this would have been an insult to many managers, Evans once again proved his class by fully committing to the relationship and backing his new assistant 100%.  Sadly the arrangement was not to work and on 12th November 1998, Roy Evans announced his retirement from Liverpool Football Club.

Although he never delivered the success the club desired whilst manager, Roy Evans' loyalty and service to the club should never be underestimated, nor should his impact on developing young talents, many of whom have gone on to become modern day Liverpool legends.

Gerard Houllier

Nationality : French
Date Appointed : July 1998
Date Left : May 2004
Games Played : 324
Games Won : 164
Trophies Won : 6

Gerard Houllier became the first foreign manager of Liverpool in 1998.  Initially appointed to work alongside then manager Roy Evans, Houllier took sole charge of the club after Evans decision to resign in November 98.

Born in Therouanne, France, Houllier moved to Liverpool in the 1960's, where he began teaching at Alsop School in Walton.  Houllier's love for Liverpool began when he stood on the Kop and witnessed the team beat Dundalk 10-0 in a European match.

After returning to France Houllier began his managerial career and in 1973 became player/ coach with Le Touquet.  He then had spells with Arras and Noeux Les Mines before he managed Lens for three seasons.  Whilst working for Lens his talents were noticed by Paris St. Germain, who he would take to the French Title in 1986.

After his spell with Paris St. Germain, Houllier was appointed to the French National squad, where he had roles as Technical Director and assistant manager, before he became National Coach, a post he held until 1994.  In 1996 he led the French under 18's to the European under-18's Championship, and in 1997 took the under-20's to the quarter finals of the under-20's World Cup.

By the summer of 1998 Houllier's undoubted talents were much sought after, and Liverpool moved quickly to secure his services.

After the departure of Roy Evans, Houllier set about rebuilding the squad in the summer of 1999, releasing many established players and bringing in many new faces.  Steady progress followed and in 2001 Houllier led Liverpool to their first trophy in six years, as the team won the Worthington Cup (League Cup).  This was quickly followed by both the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, ensuring Liverpool ended the season with a unique treble of cup competitions.  At the start of the following season he would also add the Charity Shield and UEFA Super Cup to his collection.

Sadly for Houllier ill health cut short the 01/02 season, as he faced major heart surgery in October 2001.  Thankfully he recovered and returned to managerial duties in March 2002 as Liverpool played Roma at Anfield.  Liverpool would end the season second in the League and would reach the quarter finals of the Champions League.  On any other season Liverpool's point haul for the 01/02 season would have seen them claim the Premier League title, but sadly for Houllier and Liverpool, Arsenal were in imperious form that season, winning the title by 7 points.

Despite the glory of the 01/02 season and the advances made in the Premier League, Houllier was seen by many fans as being too negative, with his teams relying on a solid defence and counter attacking football.  Although this stood the team in good stead for away matches, at home, the fans were disappointed by Liverpool's inability to score goals and kill off teams.

As results suffered and Liverpool failed to produce another serious title challenge the pressure on Houllier grew.  Although the team won the Worthington Cup again in 2003, by the summer of 2004 Houllier's time in charge of Liverpool was coming to an end.  Despite his determination to remain in the job and a belief that he could succeed, Houllier reluctantly agreed to leave the club in May 2004.

After leaving Liverpool Houllier would go on to lead Lyon to multiple French titles and established the team as a major force in European Competition, with the club reaching the knock-out stages of the Champions League on two occasions.  After leaving Lyon Houllier would regularly be seen at Anfield, following his beloved Liverpool.  He also had spells commentating for radio or TV stations.

In 2003 Gerard Houllier was awarded the prestigious OBE for his services to football.  It is a fitting tribute for a loyal servant and fan of the club, who lived his dream of bringing glory to Anfield, if only for a short period.

Sadly Houllier passed away on the 14th December 2020 - aged 73, after undergoing a heart operation in Paris.  Fondly remembered by fans and players alike, Houllier will rightly be remembered as one of LFC's most important managers and a genuinely humble, kind human being.  When asked about Houllier, Steven Gerrard replied that "He was more than just a manager" and that he shaped him into "a better player, a better person, a better leader".

Rafa Benitez

Nationality : Spanish
Date Appointed : June 2004
Date Left : June 2010
Games Played : 350
Games Won : 194
Trophies Won : 4

Rafa Benitez arrived at Anfield in the summer of 2004 with a big reputation having just led Valencia to both the Spanish League Title and UEFA Cup.  He had also won the Spanish title several seasons earlier, the first time Valencia had won the title for several decades.

Benitez instantly set about rebuilding both the playing squad and backroom staff, bringing with him many of his Spanish coaches and trainers.  He also invested in several high profile Spanish internationals, notably Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia.

Benitez's first season in charge was a difficult one, as the Spaniard struggled to adapt to the new language and style of football.  Liverpool eventually struggled to fifth place in the league, finishing behind local rivals Everton.  Injuries to key players had a major impact through-out the season, although it would be fair to say that Benitez perhaps underestimated some of the league's smaller teams, resting key players and relying on squad players that in hindsight were not of the required quality.

Benitez also had the problem of trying to replace Liverpool's leading striker, Michael Owen.  Although Owen had been delighted at Benitez's appointment, he refused to sign a new contract, raising the possibility of him leaving on a free transfer at the end of the season.  Faced with the prospect of losing one of Europe's hottest talents for nothing, Benitez was forced to sell Owen rather than risk losing him for nothing in twelve months’ time.

Despite the difficulties, Benitez's first season in charge was to end on a glorious note as Liverpool won the Champions League for the fifth time in the clubs history.  The final will always be remembered for Liverpool's remarkable comeback from 3-0 down at half time.  The victory is even more remarkable when you consider some of the players that Benitez was working with.  Regardless of Benitez's future successes, the 2005 Champions League Final in Istanbul will be regarded as Benitez's finest hour.

The following season saw Liverpool fans eager for a realistic title challenge, buoyed by the European success of the previous season.  Sadly a title challenge never materialised, with Liverpool losing too many early games to ever really be in the hunt.  The team did finish in the top 4, and reached the knock-out stages of the Champions League again, but for many fans the poor league form was a major worry.  However, the season would again end on a high note, as the club claimed a dramatic penalty shootout victory in the FA Cup Final.  With only injury time remaining Captain Steven Gerrard score a stunning 30 yard strike to take the game into extra time, and after a goalless 30 minutes, new goalkeeper Pepe Reina saved 2 West Ham penalties to bring the FA Cup back to Anfield.

By now Benitez was a firm favourite with the Anfield faithful.  He had also proved himself to be a shrewd operator in the transfer market, selling underachieving players and replacing them with a mix of star names and young talents.  He was also very successful in developing average players into good players, in particular Peter Crouch and Jermaine Pennant.

Sadly for Liverpool fans, Benitez was unable to replicate the success that his first 2 seasons had delivered.  Despite being tipped to challenge for the title in the 06-07 season, Liverpool lost too many away games early in the season, undermining any chance they had to seriously challenge.  Liverpool were once again excellent in Europe and reached another Champions League Final, where they lost to AC Milan 2-1, in a rematch of the famous 2005 Final.  Although ne didn't know it yet, Benitez had already enjoyed the high-water mark of his Liverpool career.

As the 07-08 season began, serious problems were developing behind the scenes between Benitez and the clubs new American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett.  It was hoped that the arrival of the American owners would lead to a new era at Liverpool, like Chelsea had witnessed after the arrival of Abramovich, with marque signings and a new stadium amongst the owners promises.  Although transfer spend did increase, it was becoming obvious that Benitez was not entirely happy with the players that were being bought and sold.  Although Liverpool started the season well, even topping the table for a few weeks, poor performances after Xmas cost the team and the season would end in disappointment.

The 08-09 season would follow a similar pattern.  Benitez's resentment of the board and owners was now more public, with pre and post match interviews often used to voice his frustrations with the way the club was being run.  Of particular upset to Benitez was the clubs unwillingness to buy Gareth Barry from Aston Villa.  Benitez had already decided to sell star midfielder Xabi Alonso and use the money to buy Barry.  The Liverpool board had other ideas however, and the club eventually bought Robbie Keane from Tottenham.  Keane was never really given a fair chance by Benitez and would eventually be sold back to Tottenham.  Despite the unrest, Liverpool's form in the League was good, with the club topping the table going into Christmas.  Sadly a string of poor results in the New Year would end their hopes of winning the title, but impressive wins against Man Utd and Real Madrid, 4-0 and 4-1 respectively showed how good Liverpool could be under Benitez.  Benitez signed a new 5-year deal in March 2009 as Liverpool finished runners-up to Man Utd in the league, the highest Liverpool would finish for many years.

Despite ending the previous season in good form, Liverpool never really got going during the 09-10 season.  The departure of Alonso to Real Madrid and a 'sell to buy' policy from the clubs owners due to increasing debts meant the Liverpool squad was short on quality and results were poor.  Unrest amongst the fans quickly grew and whereas in the past their anger had been directed solely at the owners of the club, Benitez now found himself in the firing line.  Liverpool eventually finished the season 7th, went out of the Champions League and Europa League and exited the domestic cup competitions early.

By now, even the most ardent of Benitez supporters could see that the writing was on the wall, and on 3rd June 2010 Benítez left the club by mutual consent, reportedly getting a £6million pay-off.  Just days after leaving, Benitez made a donation of £96,000 to the Hillsborough fund.

Benitez's Liverpool reign is difficult to quantify.  The remarkable Champions League and FA Cup triumphs of his early reign will forever be remembered for their dramatic come-backs.  Likewise the 4-0 demolition of Man Utd and 4-1 rout of Real Madrid in the same week will remain highlights for fans for years to come.  What cannot be overlooked though, is Benitez's failure to build on his early successes.  He was clearly a talented manager who, given the right players, could and should have lead Liverpool to many more titles.  Many fans, myself included, are left wondering just what might have been.....

Roy Hodgson

Nationality : English
Date Appointed : July 2010
Date Left : January 2011
Games Played : 31
Games Won : 
Trophies Won : 0

Kenny Dalglish (2nd Term)

Nationality : Scottish
Date Appointed : January 2011
Date Left : May 2012
Games Played : 74
Games Won : 
Trophies Won : 1

Brendan Rogers

Nationality : Irish
Date Appointed : June 2012
Date Left : October 2015
Games Played : 166
Games Won : 
Trophies Won : 0

Jurgen Klopp

Nationality : 
Date Appointed : 
Date Left :
Games Played : 
Games Won : 
Trophies Won : 

If you enjoyed reading 'LFC Managers - Premier League Era' then please click on the links below to read the rest of our LFC Managers Guide :

LFC Managers - Early years through to 1950's

LFC Managers - Shankly, Paisley and the glory years