Fonseca, Slot and the main contenders to replace Klopp at Liverpool

Though nothing was confirmed publicly, Ruben Amorim to Liverpool felt like a formality as soon as Xabi Alonso revealed his intentions to remain at Bayer Leverkusen.

Yet, it is now “unlikely” that the Portuguese tactician will be calling Anfield home next season

The Sporting CP boss seemed like the perfect fit for the Reds. He certainly ticked more boxes than Alonso, anyway. But if he isn’t the chosen one for the new Michael Edwards era on Merseyside, then who might be?

The pool of potential candidates is shrinking with every passing week. Alonso is staying with the Bundesliga champions and Julian Nagelsmann has penned a new deal with the German national team

There are managers out there like Thomas Tuchel and Thomas Frank, but are either of those really the right fit for the 2019/20 Premier League champions? There’s a list of potential managers out there for the Reds and then there’s a list of potential good fits for Liverpool. Frank and Tuchel fall into the former category rather than the latter. 

So who might fit the bill? Here’s a look at five potential names. 

Robert De Zerbi 

If reports are to be believed, new sporting director Richard Hughes is a “big fan of De Zerbi”, so claims Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.

Jamie Carragher also posted a tweet suggesting Hughes tried to hire the Brighton tactician during his time at Bournemouth. If this is the case, the 44-year-old is likely going to be on Liverpool’s list, isn’t he

He’s done a good job with the Seagulls and he had Sassuolo punching well above their weight in Serie A. De Zerbi has a proven track record of scaling output with teams and he’s fiercely loyal to his style of football, which makes it easier to recruit the correct players. This no doubt appeals to Hughes and Michael Edwards. 

There are concerns over his tactical flexibility though. Brighton have struggled against teams using a low-block this term and the Seagulls aren’t the best defensively. Is this simply a case of needing better individuals or does his system have flaws that can be pinpointed and exposed? 

Gary O’Neil 

This would be a brave appointment rather than a popular one. O’Neil has done a good job with Bournemouth and Wolves but he’s yet to be tested at a higher level. However, his name might appear on the list due to the fact he’s known Edwards from their time at Portsmouth together

O’Neil was a player there when Edwards was an analyst. 

Hughes will know the Wolves boss having played with him at Fratton Park and worked alongside him at Bournemouth. Though their friendship may have been tested when O’Neil was sacked last summer. 

You would also have to assume that O’Neil has friends at Liverpool having been the under-23s assistant manager for a brief period. 

Sometimes it is a case of who you know rather than how good you are. If the Liverpool hierarchy like him, his relative inexperience might not matter. It should though. He has no experience managing in Europe and zero experience dealing with the pressures of competing at the top end of the Premier League. 

Andoni Iraola 

Iraola is another who might appear on the list due to his connection with Hughes

The Basque-born coach was brought to England by Hughes when he hired him as Bournemouth manager. Iraola is wed to a specific style and though it was a slow start with the Cherries, he has had them playing some good football this season. He impressed during his time with Rayo Vallecano too. 

The 41-year-old gets the best out of his attackers, he’s tactically astute and he’s developed a number of players during his short time in the Premier League

He has his teams punching upwards and this is a trait Liverpool seem to like in their managers. They want coaches who can eke a little more out of players. These marginal gains matter and Iraola is seemingly someone who understands this. 

Arne Slot 

Another possible candidate might be Arne Slot. He looked destined for Spurs last summer but ended up signing a new deal with Feyenoord. The Dutch tactician has impressed in his homeland. His average of 2.11 points per game with AZ is the highest in the club’s history and he was only sacked having negotiated a deal to take over as Feyenoord manager at the end of the season. 

During his debut season in Rotterdam, Slot guided Feyenoord to a third place finish and the final of the Europa Conference League. His second season saw him with the Eredivisie title and this season, Feyenoord are comfortably second.

He’s got them playing brilliant football despite regularly losing star names. He’s developed youngsters as well as bedding in fresh faces. 

It is easy to see why the Reds might be intrigued by the 45-year-old

Paulo Fonseca 

It is also easy to see why Paulo Fonseca would appear on the list for Liverpool

The Portuguese coach is doing an impressive job with Lille, guiding them to the Europa Conference League quarter-finals this season as well as impressing in Ligue 1. At the time of writing, Les Dogues are fourth in the table, a point behind Brest with a game in hand. 

He’s developed players at Lille and his record, though not amazing throughout his career, is quite consistent. Fonseca is a good tactician with a clear game plan and, with the exception of his stint in charge of Porto, he’s always managed to get more out of the team he’s managing. 

Even with Roma, a period many view as disappointing, he guided them to a Europa League semi-final. 

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