Does History Repeat Itself? – Liverpool Rising

12 April 2014

Mark Pearson discusses the similarities between Liverpool’s current campaign and the title-winning 1963/64 season under Bill Shankly.


“No occurrence is sole and solitary, but is merely a repetition of a thing which has happened before and perhaps often… The trouble with history is that while historians repeat each other, history never repeats itself. Not, at any rate, exactly” — Mark Twain

Grass Roots

When William “Bill” Shankly became manager at Liverpool he walked into Melwood on a cold Monday winters morning back in 1959 and uttered some of his first words to those around him, “this place is a shambles”. He wasn’t just talking about the team he had inherited; Anfield was in a state of disrepair and Melwood resembled something akin to any park wasteland you care to think of in the country, it certainly wasn’t befitting a football club with visions of grandeur. The squad of players at his disposal mainly included seemingly average players with a sprinkling of some promising reserves.

One of Shankly’s first challenges was to encourage the then Liverpool Board to spend money on new players and he set about almost immediately rejuvenating the team by placing 24 players on the transfer list. His first “key signings” in Ron Yates and Ian St John helped transform the rise of Liverpool FC. After gaining promotion our first season in the top tier of English football under Shankly we finished in 8th place.

When Brendan “Buck” Rodgers became manager of Liverpool he walked into Anfield on a warm Friday summers morning back in 2012 and uttered his first words at a press conference to those around him, “I will leave no stone unturned in my quest to try and get Liverpool back on the map again”. He wasn’t just talking about the team he had inherited. Anfield was in need of expansion and certainly wasn’t befitting a football club with visions of super grandeur. The squad of players at his disposal mainly included seemingly average players with a sprinkling of some promising reserves.

One of Rodger’s first challenges was to encourage the Liverpool Board to spend money on new players since FSG had “been burned” in earlier heavy investment. His first “key signings” in Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho helped transform the rise of Liverpool FC. In our first season of the top tier in English football under Rodger’s we finished in 7th place.

All just a coincidence perhaps? Doesn’t prove anything maybe? The trouble with history is that it never repeats itself. Not, at any rate, exactly.

Rising

It was in Bill Shankly’s second season in the old First Division that things really started to gel for Liverpool and the team started to produce scintillating fast paced free flowing football.

The year was 1963/64.

In that season Liverpool went top of the league on the 30th of March after having handed out a thrashing to Tottenham, a position in which they remained after each round of games that followed. A league double was handed out to Manchester Utd 1-0 and 3-0 in fact. The season ended off with Liverpool being crowned champions and putting 5 goals past Arsenal at Anfield, a team they had earlier faced in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Liverpool had that year the stand out strike partnership in the country with Ian St John who scored 21 league goals bettered only by Rodger Hunt who finished his league campaign by bagging 31 goals in total.

It was in Brendan Rodgers second season in what used to be known as the old First Division that things really started to gel for Liverpool and the team started to produce scintillating fast paced free flowing football

The year was 2013/14

In that season Liverpool went top of the league on the 30th of March after having handed out a thrashing to Tottenham, a position in which they remained after each round of games that followed. (I know, there are still 5 “rounds” left to play”). A league double was handed out to Manchester Utd 1-0 and 3-0 in fact. This season Liverpool have put 5 goals past Arsenal at Anfield, a team they had earlier faced in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Liverpool had that year the stand out strike partnership in the country with Daniel Sturridge who has scored 20 league goals so far bettered only by Luis Suarez who has bagged 29 goals to date.

All just a coincidence perhaps? Doesn’t prove anything maybe? The trouble with history is that it never repeats itself. Not, at any rate, exactly.

Countdown

And so to this Sunday lunchtime and the visit of Manchester City on what is fast becoming the slowest countdown in the history of slow countdowns! It seems each week we have a new target, 10 cup finals, 9 cup finals, 8 cup finals, 7, 6…5.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 6, 2014: Liverpool's players celebrate after beating West Ham United 2-1 during the Premiership match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
Liverpool’s players celebrate after beating West Ham 2-1 during the Premier League match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I am acutely aware that it is April; we have not yet gorged on copious amounts of chocolate and cursed the Bank Holiday weather. Nothing has been won. Rodgers cannot be attributed to Bill Shankly at this moment in time.

But I say embrace what is happening, let the pantomime play out in front of us and let us savour every moment of what is before us. Manchester City arrive, a team full of talent, but let’s not fear them.

After all is history not on our side? Just a bit different?

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