Worst XI: The Man That Could Not Escape The Second Tier

The Worst XI

We’ve reached the end.

All the positions have been filled from 1-11, goalkeeper to centre forward and now it is time to give this wretched XI an equally wretched manager. Here are the results:

1. Phil Taylor        56%
2. Roy Hodgson        36%
3. Graeme Sounes      8%

Yes, it’s a little bit of a shock that Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor was once Liverpool mana… it’s not the darts player? Right then, let’s find out just why he won over half of the votes in our poll.

The Great Player

Born in 1917, Taylor joined Liverpool from Bristol Rovers in 1936 as a talented wing-half. He’d play 345 times over 18 years for the club, captaining the club in 1950 when they lost the FA Cup Final to Arsenal and won Division 1 in 1947 with the club. He’d earn three England caps in 1947 as well before retiring in 1954.

Not So Great Manager

Liverpool would go down to Division 2 in 1954 and Taylor would join the coaching staff upon his retirement. However, Don Welsh (manager at the time) would fail to get the club back into the top tier of English football in two years and was sacked in 1956. The club turned to Taylor, a great player of the club’s past, to turn fortunes around and get the club back into Division 1.

Things would start fairly promisingly for Taylor as he guided the club to third then fourth in the Second Division. However, the club would continue to toil in the second tier with Taylor only seemingly able to take the club so far. The appointment of an ambitious chairman in Tom Williams certainly did not help Taylor’s cause either and, by December 1959, Taylor resigned with the 1959/60 season having got off to a rocky start. So, just why did things go so wrong?

Simply put, Taylor was part of the old thought process that a great player does not make a great manager. He struggled with the transition of having to manage some of his former teammates and no longer being able to speak and socialise with them because he was the boss. He wasn’t stern enough or ruthless enough to make tough calls or inspire or motivate his team to take that next step.

Worse still, Taylor hated the stress of the job and the strain it took on his emotions. He would tell the Liverpool Echo after his departure that he tried his very best but it wasn’t enough. This was a man that loved the club and wanted to succeed but knew he wasn’t the man for the job. Furthermore, he wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the directors at the club. Back then, managers would pitch their starting XI for each game to the directors for approval. This is an insane concept that would only work with a strong-willed manager but Taylor would admit that many times the XI on the pitch was not the XI he wanted out there.

The final straw was one of the most embarrassing defeats in the club’s history – an FA Cup elimination at the hands of non-league Worcester City which hastened Taylor’s departure. He would win just over half of his 150 games in charge of the club but will remain in history as the only manager to have never managed Liverpool in the top tier of English football (something even Roy Hodgson can say).

Taylor would leave behind the seeds for a revolution at Liverpool though in his backroom staff. Reuben Bennett, Joe Fagan and Bob Paisley are all names most Liverpool fans will know and Taylor’s successor Bill Shankly would utilise these men to form the legendary Boot Room.

So, while Taylor did build some foundations on which the modern Liverpool was built, the fact remains that his time in charge will be forever linked to failure. Failure to revolutionise or even improve the club’s flagging fortunes will always be held against Taylor throughout history despite, by all accounts, him being a lovely man and great player.

So, that is it and for one final recap here is the complete XI:

Goalkeeper: Adam Bogdan

Right Back: Philipp Degen

Centre Back: Torben Piechnik

Centre Back: Tiago Ilori

Left Back: Paul Konchesky

Right Midfield: El Hadji Diouf

Centre Midfield: Istvan Kozma

Centre Midfield: Christian Poulsen

Left Midfield: Milan Jovanovic

Striker: Sean Dundee

Striker: Iago Aspas

Manager: Phil Taylor