Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool signed Gary McAllister, 35, for a free transfer in the summer of 2000.
Still, the Scotsman was just as surprised as everyone else when GÃ©rard Houllier entered him.
“It’s a fairy tale to someone in my stage of life. It surprised me when Liverpool picked me up,” McAllister told ECHO at the time.
âLiverpool have three cup competitions next season and a tough Premiership campaign. Their team’s average age last season was under 25, and that’s really very young for a top club.
“The manager explained that there was a need for some experience around the team, an old header in the side. I just had my best Premiership goal total with 13 last season, and I’m feel fitter than ever.
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“It’s too early to say how many games I’m going to play, maybe people will be surprised.”
49 appearances, seven goals and seven assists, a cup hat-trick and a Champions League qualification – McAllister has certainly surprised more than one as the Scotsman and Liverpool have had an unforgettable season.
Scoring in a penalty shootout against Birmingham City to help win the League Cup, it was his free kick in the FA Cup final that helped create Michael Owen’s equalizer as the Reds won a 2-1 comeback victory over Arsenal.
But having come on as a substitute in both domestic finals, McAllister did his best for the UEFA Cup final, playing the full 117 minutes of Liverpool’s 5-4 golden goal win as he scored one and organized three, including the winner, in a man of the match performance against Alaves.
Meanwhile, his streak of five goals in five appearances in the spring, including famous winners against Everton and Barcelona, ââkept the Reds in the race for Champions League qualification and reach the Cup final. UEFA in the first place.
Is it any wonder that Kopites still sings ‘Gary Macca’, the aforementioned six goals and his ‘bald head’ to this day?
But that didn’t stop fans from being surprised again when McAllister surprisingly returned to Anfield as part of Brendan Rodgers’ new coaching setup in 2015, as the Northern Irishman briefly hung on at work after a disappointing season but Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh were ousted.
At the time, he had quit football for four years after leaving Aston Villa, having served as Houller’s deputy manager and replaced him as interim boss when the Frenchman was sidelined due to sickness.
And before that, he had enjoyed varying fortunes as a manager with Coventry City and Leeds United before briefly serving as the coach of Gordon Strachan’s first team at Middlesbrough before receiving the call from Aston Villa.
Still, that didn’t stop him from being tasked with helping turn Liverpool’s fortunes around after their failures in 2014/15, signing up as first-team coach with Sean O’Driscoll as as Deputy Director and Pep Lijnders being promoted from the academy to the newly created post. as the team’s first development coach.
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“I am delighted. I am really excited to be back,” said the Scot. âIt’s fantastic and I can’t wait.
“I feel like I owe Liverpool, to have had this opportunity at the last stage of my career, at 35, and to have this opportunity.
“It’s similar, I feel the same as I do about it – it was a surprise phone call back then when I was given the chance to come and play at Liverpool at 35.
“The right place at the right time, and I just hope it will be repeated. A lot of hard work and dedication … it’s all there, Liverpool are a club where you can win things – that’s a fact.
“I am looking forward to working with the players. There have been some exciting signings and there are already some fantastic players at the club.
“There is a definite quality there and I just can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Yet McAllister’s return to Liverpool would only be brief as he followed Rodgers through the out door, along with O’Driscoll, three months later, in October 2015.
The Scotsman got one thing right, however, when he assessed the talents of the squad he left behind, with a number of them playing their roles under Jurgen Klopp and becoming European, World Champions. and England along the way.
While the 57-year-old, who celebrates his birthday on Christmas Day, may not have been selected for the Reds coaching staff following Klopp’s arrival, accepting an ambassadorial post, Lijnders was and now serves as deputy manager of the German.
But could McAllister be the man to replace the Dutchman, who reiterated his own desire to one day return to management earlier this week.
“That’s the plan (to be manager again),” he told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-finals game with Leicester City. “It’s the plan, but Jurgen knows it.
âNow is not the time to talk about these things because I have a contract until 2024. When the time comes, I will sit down with my management and see my options.
“But we’re in the middle of this project, this beautiful project, and after that I’ll decide. But definitely, yes, that’s the plan.
“Now is not the time to talk about these things (becoming a Liverpool manager one day).
“I will speak with my management in 2024 and we will see all the options that are on the table.”
If this is “the plan” for Lijnders to become manager again, it may be a similar story when it comes to another return to Anfield for McAllister.
It might have come as a surprise when the Scotsman joined Liverpool in 2000 and again when he was appointed to the coaching staff in 2015, but it wouldn’t be if he joined the Reds for the third time. .
After leaving Anfield, he returned to training alongside Steven Gerrard in 2018, becoming his assistant manager at Rangers, before returning to Aston Villa earlier this year by joining the Liverpool legend at Villa Park.
And with the talismanic captain repeatedly tipped for his own Liverpool to return as manager someday, it is likely he wouldn’t be the only former Red to return to Anfield.
McAllister wanted to give back to Liverpool on his first coaching appointment in 2015, hoping to enjoy an equally successful spell at the club.
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On this occasion, fate played against him, but it should turn out differently if Gerrard is ever given the job of manager of the Reds.
Many believe this is a position he is destined to have. Well if that is the case then McAllister is destined to be a future Liverpool assistant manager.
He is hoping it will certainly last longer than his previous coaching stint at Anfield, or even his two-year playing career with the Reds.
But anyway, as Kopites waits to serenade Gerrard, reveling in the fact that he can pass the ball up to 40 yards, is a red, is better than Frank Lampard, and is a born and raised Scouser, it is only It’s only a matter of time before they too can start sharing their love for Gary Macca’s bald head again.