Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Liverpool hope perfectionist Arne Slot continues Jurgen Klopp’s legacy

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Arne Slot may idolise Pep Guardiola but Liverpool see him as a natural successor to Jurgen Klopp.

The 45-year-old Dutchman, who was confirmed as the new head coach at Anfield on Monday, has earned a reputation as a perfectionist and control freak and has said the City boss and Lionel Messi are the two people to have enriched football and never disappointed him in recent decades.

“Guardiola’s teams always play good, dominant, well thought out football,” Slot said a couple of years ago.

“Then of course you have Jurgen Klopp. Manchester City-Liverpool for me is the ultimate game.” He is about to experience that first-hand.

Jurgen Klopp said goodbye to Anfield on Sunday (Peter Byrne/PA)

For all his admiration of Guardiola, his style is more akin to Klopp’s – his Feyenoord team plays 4-3-3 and their pressing has become among the most successful of any team across Europe’s top seven leagues, with numbers closely mirroring those of Liverpool, and his preference for a high defensive line is a familiar tactic.

That will help with the transition as it should not require major changes in tactics or personnel at Anfield.

Slot is also regarded as an expert in man management and more than capable of handling the media – which plays a significant part in the role of Liverpool manager – and he places a big emphasis on developing young players.

It may appear Michael Edwards, Fenway Sports Group’s new chief executive of football, has picked a Klopp clone but even he knows that is impossible considering the impact the German has had on and off the pitch in nine years.

But while the similarities are obvious, and somewhat understandable, Liverpool will hope they have identified the man who can not only continue Klopp’s work but enhance it.

When Slot, who is open to new ideas and has even watched his local basketball club for inspiration, arrived at Feyenoord they had finished fifth in the Eredivisie and were not blessed with significant financial resources.

But in his first season he took them to the Europa League final, as Klopp did with Liverpool, and won the league in his second campaign.

He fits the FSG philosophy of getting more from untapped resources or underrated players – perhaps best exemplified by Turkey international Orkun Kokcu who was transformed under his leadership and, after lifting the league trophy, was sold to Benfica for a club record £21.5million-plus.

In Slot’s previous job he guided unfancied AZ Alkmaar to second in the league in a Covid-shortened 2019-20 season.

He now has to make the considerable step up in terms of quality and expectation. Liverpool will hope they have chosen well.

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