Manager out, head coach in: Edwards and Hughes seek to take back Klopp's power

Arne Slot isn’t going to be the next Liverpool manager. No, instead, he’s going to be the head coach. 

According to Jonathan Northcroft of the Times, the Reds are preparing “for a shift away from the traditional British football club structure.”

Northcroft went on to say: “The Dutchman, 45, is expected to be happy with that status, having spent his coaching career working in the same head coach/sporting director model that Liverpool are poised to adopt.”

“Liverpool believe the new structure is more appropriate to the complexities and demands of the modern game and that it will give the man in charge of their first team — the head coach — more support to do his job, not less.”

It may sound pedantic.

In the eyes of many, a manager and a head coach are identical in everything but name. At some clubs, this might well be the case. Liverpool, however, have been keen to differentiate the two. 

The Reds are seemingly looking to adopt more of an Americanised set-up behind the scenes. For those unfamiliar with this, NFL teams have a General Manager who will head up the football operations side of things. They will work on improving the squad, sorting contracts and trades as well as being in charge of hiring the head coach. 

There’s a clear separation between the head coach and the general manager. 

Richard Hughes, Michael Edwards

This makes it easier to keep sentiment out of the decision-making process. This is something Liverpool are eager to do in the post-Jurgen Klopp era at the club. And it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

FSG had a clear vision in mind when they bought the club. It may have taken them a while to execute their plan but they eventually nailed the balance. 

Edwards and Klopp conquer Europe

Michael Edwards assembled a team behind the scenes that was at the forefront of analytics in football, with marginal gains driving a lot of the decisions, while Klopp, one of the greatest man-managers and tacticians in football made the most of the playing squad. 

This dynamic helped Liverpool identify undervalued talent and turn them into world-class talents. It was during this period that the Reds won everything. This group conquered Europe and dominated domestically. 

Over the past few years, however, Klopp’s influence off of the pitch has grown. While the club didn’t exactly give up on their famed model, it did take something of a back seat. 

The former BVB boss got involved in contract negotiations when Jordan Henderson was angling for a new deal in 2021. In a pre-season press conference, he said it would get sorted and it did. With both Edwards and Julian Ward leaving their roles as sporting director in consecutive years, Klopp was burdened with even more responsibility away from the pitch. 

Arne Slot Feyenoord

Arne Slot Feyenoord

Maybe he wanted it. Maybe he just ended up with it as a result of circumstance.

Whatever the case, it was clear that he was more powerful than ever. 

Klopp's power solidifies

Over the past two summers, reports have suggested Klopp has had a more hands-on approach with transfers. Interim sporting director, Jorg Schmadtke, revealed as much when he admitted to essentially being Klopp’s assistant

And it goes some way to explaining why Liverpool’s search for a full-time sporting director took so long. Anfield Watch understands a number of those interviewed for the role didn’t want to work for Klopp but wanted to work with him. However, Klopp wasn’t prepared to once again accept more of a passive role. Understandable, of course. He’s the most influential person at the club, why would he? 

Klopp wanted Max Eberl to come in as the club’s sporting director. His appointment would’ve further removed FSG from their original model with the former director of sporting at RB Leipzig not renowned for his data-led approach. He prefers the old school model of scouting. 

The Reds were prepared to move for Eberl and battle it out with Bayern Munich had Klopp agreed to a new deal. The 56-year-old wasn’t prepared to do that and after the manager informed them of his decision to call time on his Liverpool career at the end of the season, the club had no other choice but to go back to their original model.

No other manager could wield the same power as the German at Anfield. No other manager had earned the right to run the club in the same way Klopp did. 

Slot hand-picked by Edwards and Hughes

With Edwards as the CEO of football operations and Richard Hughes coming in as sporting director, Liverpool have their General Managers. They’re going to be tasked with handling everything off of the pitch and piecing together a squad they deem to be good enough for the manager to compete. 

Slot, a man hand-picked by the duo of Edwards and Hughes, will focus on getting the best out of the players given to him. Everyone is on the same page and this can only be a positive for the Reds.

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