Which Liverpool Managers Had the Best (and Worst) Win Percentages?

Although managers in football are judged by the number of trophies they’ve won (especially at the biggest clubs), it’s worth looking at managers’ win percentage stats to get a more stats-based idea about just how good they were. In this article, we’ll look at the best five and worst five Liverpool managers based on their overall win percentage.

Best Liverpool Managers by Win Percentage

Manager Time in Charge Games Managed Win %
Kenny Dalglish 30 May 1985 to 21 Feb 1991 307 60.91
William Edward Barclay, John McKenna 15 Feb 1892 to 16 Aug 1896 127 60.63
Jürgen Klopp 8 Oct 2015 to present 433 60.36
Bob Paisley 26 Aug 1974 to 1 Jul 1983 535 57.57
Rafael Benitez 16 Jun 2004 to 3 Jun 2010 350 55.43

In the history of Liverpool FC, 12 managers have achieved win rates of 50% or greater, but only the five mentioned above have had win rates greater than 55%. Three managers have achieved greater than 60% (though note that Klopp’s could dip below that before his Liverpool days are done). To put that into context, Alex Ferguson’s win rate at Manchester United was 59.67% and Arsne Wenger’s at Arsenal was 57.25%. That said, Pep Guardiola’s at Man City is currently over 72%!

Joe Fagan, Gerard Houllier & Bill Shankly

There are a couple of notable absentees from the top five Liverpool managers (based on this metric). Joe Fagan – who led the Reds to the First Division title, the League Cup and the European Cup – just misses out on a top-five berth with his (still very impressive) win rate of 54.20%. While Gerard Houllier (52.12%) and Bill Shankly (51.98%) are not far behind.

Kenn Dalglish, William Edward Barclay & John McKenna

Note that the stats for Kenn Dalglish relate to his first stint at the club only. His win rate in his second stint was 47.30%, and the two combined would give an overall win rate of 58.27%. So, there could be an argument to demote King Kenny to third place, leaving the club’s first joint managers, William Edward Barclay and John McKenna, taking top spot.

Interestingly, William Edward Barclay began his managerial career in charge of another club, which was Everton. In partnership with McKenna, Barclay led Liverpool to promotion to the First Division, then a relegation, and then an immediate promotion back to the top flight. At that point they perhaps thought football management was a little too stressful and handed the reins to Tom Watson, who led Liverpool to their first top-flight title in 1900/01.

Bob Paisley & Jürgen Klopp

Of course, the managerial tables would look somewhat different if we focused on the number of trophies won. In that case, Bob Paisley would be top of the pile, followed by Bill Shankly, with Kenny Dalglish in third. But it’s all about the win percentages in this article, and whether you think it should be King Kenny or the McKenna-Barclay partnership at the top of the tree, remember that current boss Jürgen Klopp could well end up as the top dog in the win-rate stakes, but time will tell on that one.

Worst Liverpool Managers* by Win Percentage

Manager Time in Charge Games Managed Win %
Don Welsh 23 Mar 1951 to 4 May 1956 232 34.91
George Patterson 7 Mar 1928 to 6 Aug 1936 366 37.43
Roy Evans, Gerrard Houllier 16 Jul 1998 to 12 Nov 1998 18 38.89
George Kay 6 Aug 1936 to Jan 1951 357 39.78
Matt McQueen 13 Feb 1923 to 15 Feb 1928 229 40.61

*Not including caretaker managers.

Don Welsh

Flipping to the other end of the stats, it is the Manchester-born Don Welsh who achieved the lowest win percentage of any Liverpool manager. He won the FA Cup as a player with Charlton Athletic, but he didn’t achieve any honours as a manager. In fact, he became the first Liverpool manager to preside over the Reds getting relegated for more than 50 years.

And to rub salt in the Reds’ wounds, Everton gained promotion to the First Division on the same day! Despite winning just over a third of his games, Welsh was in charge of more than 200 matches, which is something you can’t imagine happening at Liverpool in this day and age.

George Patterson

We have to go back even further for the next worst in terms of win percentages. George Patterson spent a whopping eight years in charge of the Reds from 1928 to 1936 – and he didn’t win a single major trophy in that time. Only four managers have been in charge of more Liverpool games than Patterson. And, only one other manager with 200+ games under their belt has failed to win silverware… you’ve guessed it: poor old Don Welsh.

Roy Evans & Gerrard Houllier

Next up we have the double-team of Roy Evans and Gerrard Houllier, both of whom were more effective when working on their own as Liverpool boss. They were only in joint control briefly but each of them boast win percentages of more than 50% when in sole charge of the club.

George Kay & Matt McQueen

Below them are another couple of managers from decades ago. George Kay was in the job from 1936 until 1951, although a large chunk of that was disrupted by the Second World War. He led Liverpool to the First Division title in the first season after the war. And, finally, completing the worst five, we have Scotsman Matt McQueen who was in charge from 1923 to 1928 and led the Reds to the First Division title in his first season in charge, though he only began the job in the February after previous manager David Ashworth left the Reds to join Oldham (who promptly got relegated). McQueen didn’t win any more silverware with Liverpool.

Roy Hodgson, Graeme Souness, Tom Watson & Kenny Dalglish

Other Liverpool managers who fell short of the 50% win rate include the likes of former England boss, Roy Hodgson (41.94%), hardman and tough-talking pundit, Graeme Souness (42.04%), the mastermind of Liverpool’s first top-flight title Tom Watson (44.34%) and a certain ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish in his second stint at the club (47.30).