Why Ruben Amorim ticks more boxes for Liverpool than Xabi Alonso ever did

Was Xabi Alonso ever, really, going to be the man to succeed Jurgen Klopp?

It felt fan-driven rather than anything else. Yes, some journalists looking for clicks made the link because it was an easy one to make. Klopp was leaving and Alonso, a former Liverpool player, was doing an exceptional job with Bayer Leverkusen.

But away from all of the noise, did it ever feel like a move the Reds would make?

FSG are, famously, into their analytics. Despite Klopp’s reputation, Ian Graham dug into the data from his time with Borussia Dortmund before Liverpool looked to bring him in to replace Brendan Rodgers. So even with Klopp’s many achievements (two Bundesliga titles, for starters) during his time in Germany, the Merseyside club still delved into the data to make sure he was the right man for the job.

Alonso highly promising, but raw

There isn’t really enough data to sieve through with Alonso.

This is his first full season in senior management and though he’s got Leverkusen playing some remarkable stuff and on their way to a first-ever title, it is still perhaps a little premature to go all in on him.

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We’ve seen what happens when managers get a big job early into their careers. It doesn’t always work out. That isn’t to say the former midfield playmaker would’ve flopped at Anfield, far from it. But while Alonso may have had fan support and a reputation amongst players, he still would’ve been an unnecessary gamble due to the many unanswered questions, in the grand scheme of things.

Ruben Amorim, however, is a much safer bet.

Amorim and Sporting success

He doesn’t have the same fan support as Alonso and his reputation across Europe isn’t quite on par with the two-time Champions League winner, but he likely ticks more boxes for Liverpool.

The 39-year-old was hired as Sporting CP manager a little over four years ago. During his time in the Portuguese capital, the former Benfica man has ended the club’s 19-year wait for a title, he’s won two Taca De Liga trophies and the Lisbon-based club are currently a point clear at the top of the table with a game in hand.

In the six seasons prior to his appointment, Sporting had finished in the top two on just one occasion. It was very much a two-team league with Benfica and Porto battling for the title.

Amorim turned it into a three-team league. That is no easy achievement when you’re a Sporting manager. They don’t have the same finances as their rivals and their spending is tied to player sales, so he’s losing key players every summer and having to tweak his system to adapt to the new faces, all while keeping them extremely competitive.

Xabi Alonso Ruben Amorim Leverkusen Sporting CP Tactical Comparison Stats Next Liverpool FC Manager

How do Xabi Alonso and Ruben Amorim compare? We look at their teams, Leverkusen and Sporting CP, as they are linked to the job as next Liverpool FC manager.

In the six seasons before he was hired, Sporting averaged 74 points in the league. In his three full campaigns at the José Alvalade Stadium, the team have averaged 82 points. They’re currently on course for an 89-point season.

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It is even more impressive when you consider Amorim has managed to do this while losing the likes of Nuno Mendes, Joao Palhinha, Matheus Nunes, Manuel Ugarte and Pedro Porro. He’s almost had to redesign his midfield pivot every single season.

He’s also given debuts and opportunities to the likes of Goncalo Inacio, Mendes, Nunes, Pedro Goncalves, Porro, Ugarte, Ousmane Diomande, Palhinha and Morten Hjulmand.

Maximising potential

The point of this is he’s used to working with what he’s given and this is what would likely happen at Anfield with the new recruitment team taking shape. They would identify what was needed and look to bring in the best fit. It would then be up to Amorim to get the best out of them. He has experience doing this.

So you have a manager who has a larger sample size. This sample size shows that he’s managed to scale the numbers, consistently, and that Sporting regularly have the best underlying stats in the league, so their position isn’t a false one.

You have a manager who works with youth and knows how to bed players into his system while still subtly making changes to make their transition into the starting XI a little more seamless. You have a manager who has experience.

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He’s experienced success and disappointment. He’s been able to learn from his failures and he’s improved as a result. These are the sorts of boxes Liverpool will want to tick when looking for Klopp’s heir and this is why, despite media noise suggesting otherwise, Amorim was likely always one of the favourites to come in.

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