Is Jurgen Klopp on course to equal an unenviable Liverpool record?

Matthew Crist by Matthew Crist / 26 September 2018, 11:00

Despite being one of the most respected and charismatic managers in the game, if Jurgen Klopp fails to bring silverware to Anfield this season he could well be on the way to equalling one of the most unwanted records in Liverpool’s history.

Of course, few people will disagree that Klopp has got Liverpool heading in the right direction during his time at the club, taking the Reds to three domestic and European finals, not to mention revolutionising the team’s playing style as they look to be genuine contenders for the Premier League title once more.

However, despite a number of near misses, since the German took over in October 2015 he hasn’t won a trophy and only one manager since the war has spent longer in the Anfield dugout without tasting success.

In March 1951 Don Welsh took charge of Liverpool replacing the outgoing George Kay, who had led Liverpool to the title in 1947 but decided to step down through illness, and little did he know he would go down in Anfield folklore for all the wrong reasons.

It was with Charlton Athletic in the mid-1930s that Don Welsh enjoyed his most successful time as a player and was widely seen as the inspiration behind the South London club’s astonishing rise from the third-tier of English football to the top-flight in just three seasons.

But as a manager Welsh didn’t enjoy the same triumphs. With his playing days over, Welsh started his coaching career at Brighton in 1947 aged just 36 but in his first season at the helm Albion finished bottom of Division Three, only to be spared demotion due to the fact that automatic promotion and relegation was still yet to be introduced.

The following couple of seasons saw something of a recovery with Welsh achieving more respectable finishes before attracting the attention of Liverpool, a club he had enjoyed a number of years with as a guest player during the Second World War, who were looking to replace the man who had taken them to the title in 1947.

Unfortunately for Welsh he inherited a Liverpool side that had been meandering in mid-table for a while and were far too reliant on the great Billy Liddell who had achieved legend status thanks to the sheer volume of goals he scored.

Liddell alone couldn’t prevent Liverpool’s meteoric slump, however, and in 1954 the Reds finished bottom of the First Division with only nine wins and just 28 points. Relegation was confirmed with a 1-0 defeat to Cardiff and Welsh had the dubious honour of being the first manager in some 50 years to guide Liverpool to relegation.

Despite the disappointment Welsh remained in charge but the writing was on the wall as the club could only manage an 11th place finish in the Second Division as they looked to bounce straight back to the top-flight.

Welsh attempted to rebuild an ailing side and spent considerably for the time but mostly on players who failed to live-up to expectation or were simply past their best but after a third place finish in 1956 the Liverpool Directors ran out of patience and decided a change was needed if the club was to get back into the First Division.

Former skipper Phil Taylor was chosen as his successor as Welsh dabbled in the pub trade before flitting between managerial positions at Bournemouth and Wycombe Wanderers. Meanwhile Liverpool eventually took a chance on a relatively unknown manager called Bill Shankly in 1959 and the rest is history.

The 1950s was a pretty bleak decade for Liverpool Football Club and to blame Don Welsh entirely would be unjust. He was simply the wrong appointment at the wrong time; ultimately leaving the Reds in a worse position than they had been in before he arrived.

Even so, his record remains there for all to see. Besides the humiliation of relegation from the top-flight, in five seasons at Anfield he failed to win a single trophy, an unenviable achievement that no incoming manager has since equalled.

Needless to say, to compare Jurgen Klopp with Don Welsh would be as stupid as it is unfair but the fact remains that if Liverpool fail to win a trophy this campaign the German will be entering his fifth season at the club on a par with a man who is generally regarded as Liverpool’s most unsuccessful manager ever.


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