Decoding Slot: Why Feyenoord coach can be PERFECT fit for Liverpool

The appointment of Jurgen Klopp’s successor will be the first major decision that new FSG CEO of Football Michael Edwards and incoming Liverpool sporting director Richard Hughes will have to make, and it is crucial that they get it right.

With popular names such as Xabi Alonso and Julian Nagelsmann dropping out of the race, and the mystery surrounding Ruben Amorim, Feyenoord manager Arne Slot now appears set to get one of the most prized managerial roles in world football.

Edwards has not been afraid to make brave decisions in the past, so the appointment might not be the popular choice that fans might be hoping for.

READ MORE: Liverpool great blasts Slot appointment with BRUTAL verdict

Slot is part of an emerging group of talented coaches who tick off a lot of boxes in terms of what Liverpool will be looking for in their new manager. So what are these 'criteria' the pundits are all talking about?

The Reds would want someone who can stylistically align with the squad built by Klopp, and has a track record of developing players and delivering success. Let's take a look at why the Dutchman fits into that.

Slot-ball - how Arne sets up

Slot mostly deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation, which is similar to Klopp’s early tactics at Liverpool. Much like other top modern-day coaches, his team operates within a variety of shapes, and this season, he has been using Liverpool’s current 4-3-3 setup more often.

Slot has also consistently implemented an attractive, dominant and aggressive style of football focused on possession and high pressing.

With an Expected Goals (xG) figure of 2.68 per 90, Feyenoord currently rank second for most goalscoring opportunities in the Eredivisie. Their Non-Penalty Expected Goal per Shot (NPxG per shot) figure of 0.13 is the best in the league and highlights their ability to create a higher quality of chances on average. 

READ MORE: Sam McGuire says these Liverpool players are PAST THEIR BEST

Defensively, the Rotterdam giants rank second in terms of Passes per Defensive Action (PPDA) which is a proxy for a team’s presing intensity. They also top the league chart for the most tackles in the attacking third and the most shots (17) and goals (4) resulting from defensive actions, pointing to an excellent counter-pressing setup.

This points to Slot's tactics being adaptable to Liverpool, and will result in a lesser stylistic upheaval for the players.

Arne Slot Jürgen Klopp Liverpool

Arne Slot is expected to become the next Liverpool manager, replacing the departing Jurgen Klopp.

Punching above their weight

Beyond the impressive brand of football, Slot has shown that he can get his teams to punch above their weight and achieve success without lavish spending.

The 45-year-old had AZ Alkmaar joint-top of the league in his first season before it was called off due to COVID. When he left the club, his 2.11 points per game average in the league was the highest of any coach in the club's history.

Then at Feyenoord, he led the club to the UEFA Europa Conference League final in his first season, and won the Eredivisie in his second season. In the current campaign, they won the Dutch Cup and are comfortably second in the league. His 2.13 points per game average is also the best of any Feyenoord manager in over 50 years.

This is similar to what Klopp was doing at Dortmund and has replicated on Merseyside, and will be looked at favourably by FSG.

A better way to understand Slot’s impact is by looking at how he has improved things after taking over a new club.

When he took over Feyenoord in the 2021/22 season, they immediately became much better defensively, which saw their Expected Goals Against (xGA) figure improve from fifth in the previous season (1.21 per 90) to second best (1.01 per 90) in the league. They also became one of the best pressing teams in the league with a PPDA of 8.4, which was a big improvement from eighth place (11.41).

The same impact was seen offensively. Compared to the previous campaign, Feyenoord had more touches in the opposition penalty area, created more chances and scored more goals.

Slot's ability to clearly transmit his ideas to the players sees them quickly respond and implement them on the pitch. This aspect will be absolutely crucial in the early stages post-Klopp - and is an area Slot stands out in.

Developing talent

Klopp has done an incredible job of nurturing talent at Anfield and creating a pathway from the academy to the first team. This will be an important criteria that his successor needs to tick off. Thankfully it's another area which seems to be a fit for the Reds.

Slot has overseen the development of the likes of Quinten Timber, Thomas Beelen, Yankuba Minteh and Santiago Gimenez into the best players in the Eredivisie.

Mats Wieffer, Lutsharel Geertruida and academy player Quilindschy Hartman have all turned into senior internationals under the manager.

Slot’s ability to improve players has been very profitable for the club, as they have also sold Marcos Senesi, Luis Sinisterra, Orkun Kokcu and Fredrik Aursnes for big money during his reign.

Most impressively, when the club lost their top four goalscorers at the start of their title-winning 2022/23 season, he still managed to improve the players he had and continued to deliver results.

Slot has now openly expressed his wish to be in the Anfield hotseat next season, and despite the pessimism in some quarters, it is an appointment fans should have every reason to get excited about.

Share This Article