Benitez hails 'Shankly way' as inspiration

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The Independent Football

On the 50th anniversary of Bill Shankly's appointment as Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez yesterday said that the Scot is still an inspiration to the club and his memory even lives on at their Melwood training ground.

Benitez revealed that when former Liverpool player Sammy Lee became assistant manager last year it was decided to strengthen the ties with the Shankly era. "One of the things we did after Sammy came was to change a little bit of decoration at Melwood," he said. "We now have a lot of photographs of former players, the legends and the managers and quotes from different people.

"We have been trying to bring this spirit. When people come to training, they can look around and it is an inspiration to them. It would have been an honour to have met him, 100 per cent. Now all we can do is our best to make sure the mentality and the passion is always the same. That is the key to making sure the club stays at the level Bill Shankly wanted it to be at.

"Everything has changed in football and everything is different in society nowadays. But still we try to have the same ideas as Shankly. When people talk about the 'Liverpool way', it was always to win. That is our priority if possible. We try to do things properly, like Shankly did."

Benitez became manager in 2004, 30 years after Shankly departed having won three league titles, two FA Cups and a Uefa Cup in his 15 years at Anfield. The Spaniard was not aware of the way in which the charismatic Scot had built up the club, but soon found out. "I didn't really know much about him before I came but I started reading books about him and made sure that I spoke with a lot of people," he said. "I kept reading all those little phrases and sentences. But I also listened to an old radio interview he did. I struggled at first with the accent but once it all became clear, I was really impressed with his ideas.

"He was so ahead of his time. He was talking about training sessions and if it had been raining and the players were wet, he would tell them to be careful and he would look after them, make sure they recovered properly and ate the right food."

Liverpool are still formulating their plans to mark the half-century since Shankly took over, likely to take place at the Wigan game on 16 December, the nearest home match to the 50th anniversary of Shankly's first game.