In the new 'Red Machine: Liverpool in the 1980s, the Players' Stories' book, Liverpool FC magazine journalist Simon Hughes interviews some of the most influential figures to have represented the club in its most successful decade.
Released today, Liverpoolfc.com celebrate Kenny Dalglish's return to the club last week as a non-executive director with an extract from a chapter with John Barnes. Here, Barnes explains how Dalglish had the foresight to help mould arguably Liverpool's greatest side.
In 1987, Dalglish liberated the players. Barnes initially slotted in as a classic winger - running, dribbling, crossing; and in Beardsley and Aldridge, the attacking portfolio was reshaped to compensate for the loss of Dalglish himself as well as Rush.
'People saw it click on the first day of the season, but I saw it on the first day of pre-season training,' Barnes says. 'It felt like we had been together forever. As soon as we got the ball out and started passing, it felt natural. That was the genius of Liverpool: recognising how a group of players that hadn't been in the same side could come together and gel instantly. We weren't coached into being good.
'Aldo wasn't a natural footballer, but he was a natural finisher. Think about it: he wasn't tall, but he scored lots of headed goals. He wasn't really that quick, but he got on the end of crosses and through balls because of his determination and intelligence. John's timing was phenomenal. He was usually picked last in the five-a-sides, but everyone knew he was the club's premier finisher, and without him the team wouldn't have been anywhere near as effective.
'Peter's game was dropping off and picking up possession. There was a time when the crowd didn't really appreciate his work. There was an impression that he should be getting on the shoulder of the last man and reaching John's flick-ons. People quickly started comparing Peter to Kenny, but they were very different in my eyes. Peter was a lot more mobile but not as good with his back to goal. Personally, Peter was crucial to my success because we clicked straight away. Whenever he got the ball, he would look for me first and allow me to sprint off. Of everyone I played with, I would have to say that Peter was the one I enjoyed playing with most.'
The book also includes interviews with Bruce Grobbelaar, Craig Johnston, Howard Gayle, Steve Staunton, David Hodgson, Ronnie Moran, John Wark, Kevin Sheedy and Michael Robinson.
Robinson, who is now a leading broadcaster in Spanish television, recalls discussing his position in the Liverpool team with manager Joe Fagan immediately after moving to Anfield.
'Joe and Bob [Paisley] were there when I went to sign the contract and I asked them whether I could have a coffee or some fizzy water. "Here's a beer, lad," Joe told me. "Get that down your neck."
'Later, Joe asked me whether I had any other questions. "How do you want me to play?" Bob and Joe looked at each other, smiled, then Joe took charge. "We rather hope that you know how to play, otherwise we're going to lose a lot of money here."
'"According to the system, I meant."
'Joe put his hand around my shoulder, sat me down and said, "Listen, lad, we play 11 players here - just to make sure we aren't disadvantaged. In midfield, when we get the ball we try to kick it to somebody dressed the same colour as us. As a forward, Michael, kick it in the net, and if you can't, kick it to somebody who can. Then at the back, we're gonna try our best to make sure the oppo don't score."
'"There's no more to it than that?" I asked.
'"You'll find, Michael, that we leave players to figure it out for themselves. But we'll help along away. This isn't a major science . . . you'll work it out."
'It was the greatest example of man-management I'd ever come across.'
Staunton, the Irish left back, speaks about his nickname, 'Stan'...
'John Bennison had been at Liverpool with Shankly and was well respected. He was in the same mould as Ronnie Moran - very tough, especially on the young lads he wanted to test mentally. I could hear somebody shouting the name "Stan" during games, and I didn't have a clue who was being shouted at. One day, Beno came up to me and said, "Laddy, why do you keep ignoring me?" I was like, "What?"
'"Your name's Stan, isn't it?"
'"I'm Steve . . . Stephen in fact.'" Nobody bloody even called me Steve at the time. Beno was looking at me confused. Then he told me that he'd played at Chester City in the '40s or '50s with a bloke called Stan Staunton. After that conversation, he started calling me Steve, but the rest of the lads stuck with Stan.'
And Moran, a person who represented Liverpool for nearly 50 years as a player, a coach and a caretaker manager, opens up about the key to the Reds' success...
'You don't have to be a genius to realise that if you repeat something, you get better at it. We'd tell the players to try to pass to the nearest red shirt in space. If that didn't happen, it was the nearest red shirt even if he was marked. And if that wasn't possible, look for something else. This wasn't rocket science. Over the years, the lads got to know the drill. And because there were five or six of us on the staff that thought the same way, when Bill retired it passed to Bob and the same from Bob to Joe and Joe to Kenny. Not much would change. It made it easier for the staff and easier for the players.'
Red Machine: Liverpool in the 1980s, the Players' Stories, is released today (Thursday) October 10 by Mainstream Publishing. It is available by clicking here.