Liverpool have been preparing for two months to start a new manager search after Jurgen Klopp notified them of his decision to leave. The German departs at the end of the season.
While the world was shocked by Jurgen Klopp announcing his Liverpool departure on Friday, the club's owners weren't. A select few already knew of his desire to depart after he called Mike Gordon in November with his decision.
That sparked action at the club, naturally, as they started the manager search that they didn't want to make. But per the Athletic, it wasn't exactly easy.
Klopp wasn't ready to fully announce the news (and wouldn't be for two months, as it turned out). Liverpool couldn't exactly make approaches, then, as that would certainly cause the news to leak out.
They were still able to make moves, though. The data department, with Will Spearman at the head, have spent two months doing 'background work' on potential successors. They're specifically looking for candidates who fit Liverpool's current brand of football.
After all, Liverpool won't want to make drastic changes in that regard. Their squad has been built to play Klopp's style and their best chance of continuing the success is for the next manager to want a similar squad.
So who's on the list? There have been a few early rumours, naturally.
The biggest link is to Xabi Alonso. The Spaniard is thriving at Bayer Leverkusen right now, taking them to the top of the Bundesliga and unbeaten. Doing that on his budget is quite extraordinary and makes him a target for any club - but especially a club where he already has roots.
Roberto De Zerbi is another linked with the job. The Brighton boss has been seriously impressive since arriving there and the Reds have reportedly kept an eye on him before.
And now we're seeing talk of Sporting's Ruben Amorim. At this stage, it's simply about drawing up candidates - but these three appear to be frontrunners.
As for who the fans want, well, there's a clear favourite there: Alonso.