The Most Successful Teams in the History of English Football – Part 2
The following decade saw Shanks give the team a makeover when he won another title before retiring. He then sat back and watched Bob Paisley win six titles in a nine-year period, as well as a UeFa Cup and three European Cups. It seemed like the run would go on and on but then all good things come to an end eventually.
It was Arsenal rather than Utd that ended Liverpool’s reign. Of course, that wasn’t before Kenny Dalglish added to Liverpool’s title tally with three more. Liverpool’s most impressive title, however, is one that is less remembered than it deserves to be. It was the first season after the end of WW11 and can be attributed to either the the club’s decision to take a pre-season trip to the U.S to pile on the pounds by eating steak, malted milk, and cake, Jack Balmer’s crazily impressive mid-season scoring run, or the mid-season acquisition of Albert Stubbins, the goalscorer who managed to find his way on to the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album.
Eating their way to a title
The answer may lie in the fact that there was severe rationing of food in post-war Britain and Liverpool managed to keep up their energy to beat Wolves in the season’s final game to win the title. Arsenal are third on the list with 13 titles. Their story begins and ends with two great managers in the club’s history. Maybe three. It took a while for Arsenal to secure their first title, being really only a serious concern since 1935 after they poached their first great manager, Herbert Chapman.
A great poach
Chapman had just won two consecutive titles with Huddersfield. Unfortunately, for him, and for Arsenal, the side lost their first game under their new manager to rival Spurs. Soon after, they fell 7-0 to Newcastle United. In the end, however, that drubbing by Newcastle became a positive. Forward Charles Buchan managed to persuade Chapman to take a tactical change– use an extra defender to counter a new offside rule, which helped strikers to score. While the side didn’t win a title for five years, that new formation played a pivotal role in the teams’ domination in the 1930’s.
Arsenal won three titles in a row, although Chapman didn’t live to see the end of the run. He had already cemented his reputation as a genius, however. That was, in part, due to the team he had left, Huddersfield, also having won three straight titles, with the third coming in 1926. Arsenal came second that season.
For some time, the most famous season in Arsenal’s history was their 1970-71 league and FA Cup double. That was before George Graham took his side to Anfield in 1989 when he needed to beat Liverpool by two goals to win the title. Alan Smith scored one. And in the dying seconds, Michael Thomas scored the other, giving the side the two-goal cushion it needed. Liverpool fans even stayed on to clap the new league champions.