Klopp will be replaced at Liverpool by a Dutchman who has not worked in the top leagues. What to expect from the Slot — failure or sensation?

It will be inter­est­ing.

In Jan­u­ary, two coach­es of top clubs announced that they would vacate their posi­tions in the sum­mer. True, in the end the fate of both turned out dif­fer­ent­ly. Xavi repeat­ed at every press con­fer­ence that his deci­sion would not change — even if Bar­ca won the Cham­pi­ons League. How­ev­er, in the end he announced that he was stay­ing — imme­di­ate­ly after his team “merged” both La Liga and that same Cham­pi­ons League.

Sto­ry Klopp came out more spe­cif­ic — the Ger­man said that he would leave in the sum­mer and would keep his promise. More­over, Liv­er­pool have already found a replace­ment for him. Much has been writ­ten about the fact that Mersey­side is wait­ing for the return of Xabi Alon­so, but the Spaniard will remain at Bay­er for anoth­er year. This forced Liv­er­pool to switch to anoth­er can­di­date.

Accord­ing to author­i­ta­tive insid­er Fab­rizio Romano, Klopp will be replaced by Arne Slot, a 45-year-old Dutch­man who cur­rent­ly heads Feyeno­ord. Sky Sports and BBC con­firm this. Even the amount of com­pen­sa­tion is known — 13–15 mil­lion euros.

Klopp him­self spoke about Slot’s appoint­ment at a press con­fer­ence: “I like the way his team plays. And what I hear about him says that he is a cool guy. A good per­son, a good coach — I like that. I’m more than pleased. Liv­er­pool is the best club in the world and being their man­ag­er is the best job. I think it will help Slot that the team is not at its peak right now — there will clear­ly be room for improve­ment.”

But not every­one shares Jur­gen’s opin­ion. Liv­er­pool leg­end Graeme Souness believes Slote will come under a very dif­fer­ent lev­el of pres­sure in Eng­land than in the Ere­di­visie. Car­ragher empha­sizes that it is bet­ter to take a proven spe­cial­ist who has already proven some­thing, rather than some­one who has yet to do it.

So who is Arne Slot for Liv­er­pool — the ide­al can­di­date or a pig in a poke? There are argu­ments for both.

Jürgen Klopp. Klop­p’s great­ness at Liv­er­pool goes beyond titles. He gave a chance to a record num­ber of club stu­dents

Questions for Slot

The first and, per­haps, biggest com­plaint against Arne is that few peo­ple out­side the Nether­lands know him. Slota’s Feyeno­ord won the league last sea­son and then the domes­tic cup, but for the gen­er­al pub­lic what is hap­pen­ing in the Ere­di­visie is lim­it­ed to knowl­edge of attack­ing foot­ball and the progress of young tal­ent.

Per­haps there would be more inter­est in Arne’s fig­ure if he had built a bright career as a foot­ball play­er. But this did not hap­pen either. Slot spent 18 sea­sons in pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball, main­ly in the sec­ond divi­sion of the Dutch cham­pi­onship. He was a respon­si­ble mid­field­er, but far from a top one — he crit­i­cal­ly lacked speed and endurance, which forced Arne to pay more atten­tion to choos­ing a posi­tion and ana­lyz­ing the game.

But it is believed that even then every­one under­stood that Slot’s play­ing career was only a pro­logue to a big coach­ing career. Imme­di­ate­ly after his boots were on the nail, Arne went to coach. He worked for a year in the youth team of his native Zwolle, then for two years he worked as an assis­tant in the provin­cial Ere­di­visie club Cam­bu­ur. In 2016, Slot got the oppor­tu­ni­ty to try him­self in the role of act­ing. The club by that time was in 14th place in the sec­ond divi­sion table, but Arne dragged the team into the top three and only at the last moment missed the chance to return to the elite.

But after a bright debut, Slot was in no hur­ry and pre­ferred grad­ual learn­ing. He spent anoth­er two years as an assis­tant at AZ, again wait­ed for the chance to become the main one, and in less than two sea­sons showed the best result in the his­to­ry of the club in terms of scor­ing points — an aver­age of 2.11 per game.

Arne Slot with AZ players in 2019
Arne Slot with AZ play­ers in 2019.
Pho­to by Glob­al Look Press

After such suc­cess, Feyeno­ord had its eye on Slot, where in his first sea­son Arne brought the team to third place and made it to the Con­fer­ence League final (where the team lost to Jose Mourinho’s Roma). The sec­ond sea­son was also suc­cess­ful — the club won its first cham­pi­onship in six years and reached the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Europa League. In the sum­mer of 2023, Tot­ten­ham even approached Slot, but Arne decid­ed to extend the agree­ment with Feyeno­ord, and the Spurs even­tu­al­ly switched to Ang Postecoglou.

This sea­son, Slot’s team is no longer so impres­sive — sec­ond place after PSV and rel­e­ga­tion from the League of Leg­ends at the 1/16 stage (fun­ny, they end­ed up again at Roma). All this back­ground is so that you can rough­ly under­stand Arne’s path and draw a con­clu­sion for your­self about his prospects. While it is dif­fi­cult to objec­tive­ly assess the Dutchman’s poten­tial, yes, there are suc­cess­es, and con­sid­er­able ones. But is this the lev­el that allows you to expect that every­thing will work out at a top club?

Jürgen Klopp. “I won’t be able to do my job like I used to.” Klopp explains in detail why he is leav­ing Liv­er­pool

Sim­ply put, Slot is cer­tain­ly a tal­ent­ed coach, but the ques­tion of his qual­i­fi­ca­tions is still open. And it’s not just about how deeply Arne under­stands tac­tics and how good he is at game man­age­ment. The prob­lem is deep­er, because trans­fer­ring your skills to a top club from the strongest league in the world is a very dif­fi­cult task. When Klopp arrived at Liv­er­pool, he had sev­en years at Dort­mund, two Bun­desli­ga titles and a Cham­pi­ons League final behind him. Slot’s track record is much more mod­est.

In addi­tion, at Liv­er­pool Slote will have to work with stars such as Alis­son, van Dijk, Trent and Salah. As we saw over the week­end, even Klopp can have prob­lems with dress­ing room lead­ers. What can we say about Slot, who is head and shoul­ders below the stars of his pos­si­ble team in terms of media expo­sure. Will they lis­ten to him? Will hard con­cepts be accept­ed? Erik ten Hag arrived at Man­ches­ter Unit­ed with a much stronger posi­tion and still expe­ri­enced seri­ous prob­lems in estab­lish­ing his author­i­ty. Slot will have an even more dif­fi­cult time, although the atmos­phere in Liv­er­pool is much bet­ter than the one that has reigned in the red half of Man­ches­ter in recent years.

Arne Slot with the Dutch Cup
Arne Slot with the Dutch Cup.
Pho­to by Glob­al Look Press

Why the Slot is good

But Liv­er­pool boss­es nat­u­ral­ly had rea­sons to choose Slote over oth­er can­di­dates. The first — and most impor­tant — is that Arne is a nat­ur­al suc­ces­sor to Klop­p’s ideas.

In the last decade, not only the first, but all of Liv­er­pool’s youth teams have switched to a 4–3‑3 for­ma­tion so that devel­op­ing tal­ents flow more organ­i­cal­ly into senior foot­ball. This means that the club need­ed a coach who would not break the exist­ing mod­el. For exam­ple, Xabi Alon­so clear­ly prefers to play with three cen­tral defend­ers (as does fel­low can­di­date Ruben Amor­im). But Slot in Feyeno­ord uses the same 4–3‑3 with a per­ma­nent tran­si­tion to 4–2‑3–1 (which Klopp also used).

Slot is as much a fan of pres­sure as his pre­de­ces­sor. But while Jur­gen prefers to give his play­ers guid­ance on when to apply pres­sure, with Arne it is a con­stant process. But more often than not, Slot’s teams have the ball them­selves — and here he is con­sid­ered a fol­low­er of the school of Pep Guardi­o­la and Marce­lo Biel­sa.

Mohamed Salah argues with Jurgen Klopp before coming on as a substitute in the West Ham match.  “If I speak out, there will be a fire.” Salah quar­reled with Klopp dur­ing the match

“The goal is not to play attack­ing foot­ball. Rather, it is a means to win,” empha­sizes Slot.

More­over, Arne’s mod­el eas­i­ly fits the cur­rent Liv­er­pool squad. It is impor­tant for him to have a mobile brain in the cen­ter of the field (shoutout to Alex­is McAl­lis­ter), an empha­sis on wingers as the main tool for cre­at­ing chances (hel­lo to Mo Salah), and ide­al­ly, a cre­ative all-rounder capa­ble of chang­ing posi­tions and con­fus­ing oppo­nents with his move­ments (hel­lo to Dominik Szo­bos­zlai). Well, and the tra­di­tion­al­ly high posi­tions of full-backs, who great­ly influ­ence the attack (shout out to Trent and Robert­son).

Slot tries to play attack­ing foot­ball, but at the same time his teams are reli­able in defense. Feyeno­ord have con­ced­ed the fewest goals this sea­son, and experts note that in the event of unsuc­cess­ful press­ing, the team eas­i­ly switch­es to a medi­um or low block. That is, the play­ers are bril­liant­ly instruct­ed in their maneu­vers, and this is the mer­it of the coach­ing staff.

“We are an attack­ing team that likes to have a lot of pos­ses­sion and play with a lot of inten­si­ty,” Arne described his Feyeno­ord team. “When we don’t have the ball, we want to get it back as quick­ly as pos­si­ble by being aggres­sive and press­ing. I think we’re a hard team to beat.”

Arne Slot
Pho­to by Glob­al Look Press

The sec­ond impor­tant point is the char­ac­ter of Slot. Jour­nal­ist Den­ny Svan Ersel from RTV says about Arne: “Of course, he can be angry with his play­ers, but more often he hugs them. The play­ers like the coach because he has cre­at­ed a har­mo­nious atmos­phere at the club.”

Open­ness and good­will are what Slote and Klopp have in com­mon. And in this regard, con­ti­nu­ity will also be observed. Plus, Arne works great with young peo­ple — under his lead­er­ship, a whole squad of promis­ing play­ers has grown up at Feyeno­ord: David Ganzko (35 mil­lion euros on Trans­fer­markt), Quilind­shi Hart­man (23 mil­lion), Mats Wif­fer (27 mil­lion), Quin­ten Tim­ber (22 mil­lion) , San­ti­a­go Jimenez (45 mil­lion). Sol­id.

Klop­p’s chil­dren. Col­umn by Denis Kazan­sky — about glass and her­itage

And the sum­mer before last, Feyeno­ord orga­nized a sale of lead­ers and almost com­plete­ly renewed the team. Every­one expect­ed a tran­si­tion­al sea­son, but Slot went ahead and won the cham­pi­onship, recon­fig­ur­ing all the mech­a­nisms as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. For Liv­er­pool, which is behind many of its rivals for the Pre­mier League gold in terms of trans­fers, the abil­i­ty to work in such cri­sis con­di­tions is also impor­tant and worth tak­ing into account.

On paper, Liv­er­pool have indeed found a can­di­date as close as pos­si­ble to Klopp. But the main issue is the dif­fer­ence in class. We have seen many young play­ers being com­pared to big stars. But how many of them even­tu­al­ly revealed them­selves? It’s the same with coach­es. Slot is clear­ly a smart and com­pe­tent spe­cial­ist. But a jump to such a lev­el after sev­er­al steps promis­es him the loss of a huge num­ber of nerve cells. And this prob­lem will prob­a­bly also affect Liv­er­pool fans.