Manager profile

Joe Fagan

Birthdate: 12 March 1921
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Other clubs as manager: Player-manager of part-timers Nelson
Arrived from: LFC coach
Signed for LFC: 1 July 1983
First game in charge: 20.08.1983
Contract Expiry: 29.05.1985
LFC league games as manager: 84
Total LFC games as manager: 131
Honours: League Championship 1983/84; League Cup 1984; European Cup 1984; Manager of the Year 1984

Manager profile

Joe Fagan tried his luck as a player with Liverpool but manager George Kay said he wasn't good enough. Joe went on to be quite a depandable centre-half with Manchester City. Joe returned to Liverpool on 30th of June 1958 as a coach. He was put in charge of the Liverpool reserves in July 1971 and following Shankly's surprise departure as manager he was promoted to 1st team trainer in July 1974. By 1979 he had become right-hand man to Paisley. On 1st of July 1983, Fagan took over as manager from Paisley. Bob was a tough act to follow but everything fell into place for the new manager in his first season. Joe wrote his name in the record books by becoming the first British manager to win three major titles in one season; the League, the Milk cup and the European cup. Fagan had inherited a strong side from Paisley but that's never been a recipe for success. The team needed a strong character to keep it going. What faced Fagan now was to live up to his own and fans' expectations after such a fairytale season. The omens were not good. One of the strongest characters in the side and skipper Graeme Souness had left for Italy.

The most promising player of the 1983-84 season in the 1st division, Paul Walsh, had been bought in May for 700,000 pounds, midfield maestro Jan Molby from Ajax for 225,000 pounds and midfielder Kevin MacDonald from Leicester. Fagan's buy from the previous season, John Wark came into his own and was the season's topscorer at Liverpool. Liverpool's start was terrible. As if Souness' absence from midfield wasn't bad enough, goalmachine Ian Rush didn't feature until October because of injury. At the end of October the European champions were in 20th place, only two places from rock bottom (2 wins - 5 draws - 4 losses). Liverpool had moved to 10th in December, but in the end couldn't catch Everton who won the title by a mile. Liverpool came 2nd. Liverpool reached the European final again. A big occasion for Fagan as he had decided it was his last match in charge. He told his players simply before the game that after the match they could call him just Joe instead of Boss.

Hooliganism destroyed this great occasion and it was on a sad note Fagan retired. When he came out of the airplane from Brussels, his sadness was for everyone to see. The great gentleman cried on Roy Evans' shoulder. He was already 62-years-old when he took the job and had intended to stay only two years in the managerial seat.

One of Fagan's signings, Republic of Ireland international Jim Beglin said: "He was just a very genuine nice man. He was a very humble, down to earth person. He had a lovely way about him and was very gentlemanly. Underneath that soft exterior, there was also a hardened professionalism. Joe had authority and when strong words were needed, Joe could produce them."

Statistics

CompetitionTotalWonDrawLostGoals forGoals against
Grand totals13171362422597
League8444251514167
FA Cup9522237
League Cup16871279
Europe1914233410
Other300304

Matches that are won or lost in a penalty shoot-out are counted as a win/loss not as a draw.

Related Articles

The Blues rush in where Souness used to tread

Match report from 18.08.1984 by Clive White of The Times.More

The Guardian match report

The Heysel disaster seen by the eyes of the Guardian.More

Dynasty: The Joe Fagan Years 1983-1985

Paul Tomkins's latest book, Dynasty, is a reassessment of every manager of the club over the last 50 years. More

When another teenager's dream ended in heartache

WHENEVER teenage strikers leave Oldham, the heart-rending tale of Wayne Harrison always comes to mind.More

Review of Joe Fagan: Reluctant Champion

New book on Joe Fagan relies on the meticulous notes Joe maintained and the painstaking way his grandson Andrew and respected LFC author Mark Platt have pieced together the jigsaw of his remarkable life. More

Dedication to Joe Fagan

28 years ago today Joe Fagan stepped down as manager of Liverpool Football Club after 25 years of service.More

On Second Thoughts … Joe Fagan

The one-time Liverpool manager deserves more acclaim having won three major honours in his first season in charge of the club. From the Guardian on 19 September 2013.More

Review of I Don't Know What It Is But I Love It: Liverpool's Unforgettable 1983-84 Season

Our very own, Chris Wood, reviews Tony Evans' new book.More

Related Quotes

"Joe was what I would describe as a genial man who, even before he got the job which he inherited from Bob, was always extremely well respected and liked by the players. He was very thoughtful about his football, very approachable as a coach and a manager.

"The biggest tribute I could pay to him would be when he got the job I think every single man in the first team squad were desperate for him to be successful. He was following a formidable act in Bob, and I think one or two different people outside of Liverpool thought maybe it was going to be too difficult an act to follow. He was brilliant and the nicest thing I can say is everybody in the first team dressing room really, really wanted him to be successful, and that was obviously reflected in his first season."

Mark Lawrenson

"It is sad because Joe Fagan was the perfect gentleman as well as being a top coach. He was a really nice down to earth man and I felt when he was coaching he knew how to handle players, but when things weren't going well he knew when to put his foot down and he was quite hard.

"He was very down to earth and didn't really want the managers job. He did it to help Liverpool Football Club out because there was no-one ready for the job. He stepped in, not for himself but on behalf of Liverpool Football Club and he managed to do the incredible treble."

Ian Rush

"People feel Joe Fagan made a mistake buying me but I’m determined to make them eat their words!"

John Wark in 1984-85. He finished the season as Liverpool's top-scorer with 27 goals.

"You may have found me mean and thirsty in my search for trophies, but the bad news is the man who is taking my place is hungrier than me. Fagan's the name and I don't think he'll need any help from the Artful Dodger!"

Bob Paisley on his successor Joe Fagan

"He was just a very genuine nice man. He was a very humble, down to earth person. He had a lovely way about him and was very gentlemanly. Underneath that soft exterior, there was also a hardened professionalism. Joe had authority and when strong words were needed, Joe could produce them."

Jim Beglin remembers Joe Fagan

"Keep it simple, don't complicate things. He loathed all soccerspeak; he wouldn't have recognised a Christmas-tree formation if it had toppled on to him. "What does getting round the back mean?" he would ask. "We're not talking about burglars are we?"

Expressed by one of his most loyal lieutenants, Joe Fagan, Bob Paisley's soccer credo amounted to this.

"The other thing I remember about that drawn cup derby was Joe Fagan pulling me aside afterwards and mentioning something that happened with Duncan McKenzie.
‘Tommy’, he said, beckoning me to him.
‘What is it Joe?” I asked.
“The winger . . .”
“Yes, what about him?”
“He nutmegged you, didn’t he?”
I just looked blankly at him.
“Won’t happen again, will it?” he frowned.
It didn’t.
A nice early tackle in the replay saw to that!"

Tommy Smith on Liverpool's and Everton's cup fight in April 1977

Players bought

PlayerClubFeeDate
Gary Gillespie Coventry City £325,000 8 July 1983
Bob Bolder Sheffield Wednesday £125,000 8 August 1983
Michael Robinson Brighton & Hove Albion £200,000 8 August 1983
Ken De Mange Home Farm Unknown 8 August 1983
Brian Mooney Home Farm £20,000 15 August 1983
John Wark Ipswich Town £475,000 10 March 1984
Paul Walsh Luton Town £700,000 17 May 1984
Jan Mølby Ajax £200,000 22 August 1984
Kevin MacDonald Leicester City £400,000 November 1984
Wayne Harrison Oldham Athletic £250,000 8 January 1985

Players sold

PlayerClubFeeDate
Alan Harper Everton £100,000 1 June 1983
Graeme Souness Sampdoria £650,000 12 June 1984
David Hodgson Sunderland £125,000 24 August 1984
Paul Jewell Wigan Athletic £15,000 20 December 1984
Michael Robinson QPR £100,000 27 December 1984

Back