Fagan leads Reds to title glory

Fagan leads Reds to title glory12 May 1984

Joe Fagan's first season in charge of Liverpool was nothing short of sensational.

The Bootroom boy had been charged with the task of replacing the most successful manager in British football history and was the obvious choice after the success Bob Paisley had enjoyed following in the footsteps of Bill Shankly.

The 'promote from within policy' had worked so well in the past and Fagan's appointment would be no exception.

He had played an integral role in the success achieved under Paisley as his right-hand man and he was not about to make dramatic changes to a side that had won both the First Division title and the League Cup.

As skipper Graeme Souness remarked: "He and Bob had been so close for so many years that we hardly noticed the difference.

"We were using the same hotels, the same training methods and things ticked along very much the same. Joe's approach is similar and, if anything, he made the game even simpler than Bob."

However, it did not seem to be the case in the early stages of the season, as the Reds followed up a Charity Shield defeat to Manchester United with a disappointing draw at home to Wolves and a shock Anfield defeat against Sunderland.

The major issue was a lack of goals, as Fagan's men netted just 12 times in their first 10 games and there was a feeling within the squad that at some point an opponent was going to be on the end of a real hiding.

Step forward Luton Town.

The Hatters came to Anfield in October and were torn to shreds by a Liverpool side inspired by a ruthless Ian Rush.

The Wales forward ended the match with an astonishing five-goal haul as the Reds cruised to a 6-0 win that saw them surge back to the top of the table and set Rush on his way to the most prolific season of his career.

It sparked a run of consistency that saw them suffer just one defeat in 18 matches in all competitions, with emphatic home wins against Everton, Notts County and Newcastle United the highlights of their purple patch.

It soon became clear that the Reds had a superb opportunity to secure a league, League Cup and European Cup treble and after the Milk Cup victory over Everton, their attentions turned to wrapping up the title.

A 5-0 win over Coventry City at Anfield all-but clinched it with Ian Rush again the hero, with a magnificent four goal salvo.

Draws against Notts County and Norwich City saw them end the season as champions for the 15th time with a penalty shoot-out win in the European Cup final in Rome capping a magnificent first season at the helm for the man nicknamed 'Smoking Joe.'