The factors Liverpool must consider when picking Jurgen Klopp successor

How do you replace Jurgen Klopp

Well, you can’t, can you? Not really, anyway. The German tactician is unique in so many ways. Looking for a like-for-like replacement would just lead to disappointment because no candidate is going to tick every single box.

Instead, those in charge of finding the heir to Klopp are going to have to prioritise the boxes that need ticking.

What even are the boxes that you want to be ticked?

Tactical Fit ☑️

For starters, you would have to look at tactical fit.

How do Liverpool set up now and what are the main traits of the squad? Why is this important? Because this squad has been assembled to play that way. You have to assume anyone coming in is going to look to play to the strengths of this group.To make the transition from the former BVB boss to the new manager a little more seamless.

 If you had to boil the Klopp way down into a few bullet points you would probably say the following:

  • Aggressive pressing

  • High defensive line

  • Ball dominant

  • Thrive in transitional moments due to physical dominance

  • Shot heavy

You can tweak the system and the positioning of players but, generally speaking, those are the five things Liverpool are notorious for under Klopp.

However, this is where it becomes a little more complicated. Some managers will adapt their style to suit the players available to them whereas others will have a set identity and they’ll look to put their stamp on things.

Like I say with players, just because they’re doing one thing doesn’t mean they’re incapable of doing something else.

So, for example, just because Brentford only average 48% possession in the league doesn’t mean that Thomas Frank, rumoured to be on Liverpool's radar, can’t coach a possession-based style if he had the players for it. So what I’m saying here is it would be naive to just assume a manager is wed to a particular system.

This is important to flag because I’ve seen people saying this Liverpool squad isn’t set up for Xabi-ball but those commenting never took the time to watch his Real Sociedad B team. Under Alonso, the Spaniards played a back four with an inverting right-back. The 'eights' would rotate with the wingers, they used a high press and, at times, in possession, they went with a 2-2-2-4 shape.

The former Liverpool midfielder is flexible as a manager and he’s been able to showcase that if you look hard enough.

1. Bundesliga - Bayer 04 Leverkusen - FC Bayern München am 10.02.2024 in der BayArena in Leverkusen Trainer Xabi Alonso Leverkusen gibt lautstark Anweisungen *** 1 Bundesliga Bayer 04 Leverkusen FC Bayern Munich on 10 02 2024 at the BayArena in Leverkusen Coach Xabi Alonso Leverkusen gives loud instructions MH

It doesn't have to be this death-by-passes system being used by Bayer Leverkusen.

Obviously finding someone with experience setting their teams up in a similar way to Klopp’s Liverpool, it’d help, but even if they have no track record of that, I wouldn’t rule them out.

This is a very long way of saying tactical fit isn’t quite as important as some might think.

Next up, the focus should be on player development.

Player Development ☑️

Do they have a track record of improving players in general and not just developing youngsters? A lot of people focus on the latter when the former is just as important.

You don’t want senior players stalling. And this kind of bleeds into the man-management section.

It is difficult, as an outsider, to know all about a manager and their style. But, let's use Amorim as an example here, following Sporting’s success in the league, he had his entire coaching team at a press conference with him to show that it was very much a team effort.

Ruben Amorim during UEFA Europa League 23/24 game between Sporting CP and SK Sturm Graz at Estadio Jose Alvalade, Lisbon, Portugal. Maciej Rogowski Lisbon Estadio Jose Alvalade Portugal Copyright: xMaciejxRogowskix sporting-sturm-23-24-full-67

Alonso did similar with his backroom staff after the win over Bayern Munich recently.

That sort of thing goes a long way.

Personality ☑️

You want someone charismatic in charge of Liverpool. You want someone with self-confidence but someone who is also humble.

Klopp, despite all the fanfare, called himself the normal one and that suited the city of Liverpool perfectly.

But given 90% of what they do is behind closed doors, it is impossible to truly know what they’re like and therefore it makes it difficult to judge this side of their management, despite it being an important part of the job.

Statistical Success ☑️

Finally, we have the data side of things. If reports are accurate and Will Spearman is running the numbers, you can assume the underlying data will play a significant part in the hiring of the next manager.

Have they been unlucky? Have they massively over-performed to an extent that it just isn’t sustainable?

What do the numbers actually say about the team? After all, this is probably the only quantifiable part of the search. And even then it is tied to the team they are in charge of, so it has limitations.

But this was used when the club made their move for Klopp. It has been referenced on multiple occasions over the years so expect deep dives to be done and for this sort of thing to be pivotal in the club’s ultimate decision.

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