The Liverpool gamble: Will Arne Slot right in as Klopp’s successor at Anfield?

Feyenoord manager Arne Slot is widely expected to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, with Reds fans singing the Dutchman’s name on Sunday.

Slot reached the Europa Conference League final and won the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup during his Feyenoord tenure.

Slot has been vocal in the media in recent weeks about his desire to take the reins at Anfield.

Despite his success with Feyenoord, the two-time Rinus Michels Award winner will be joining an infamous list of names who traded the Eredivisie for the Premier League – with the hope of breaking the mould.

Here, Connor Burgess looks at some other managers who have swapped the Dutch top tier for England’s elite competition – then gives his view on whether Slot would be a hit or miss on Merseyside.

Erik ten Hag (Manchester United)

Having orchestrated a magical Champions League run with Ajax in the 2018/19 season, Erik ten Hag was touted as one of Europe’s most promising managers.

Ajax’s Champions League campaign ended in devastating fashion, with a 96th-minute winner from Lucas Moura securing Tottenham’s place in the final.

Ten Hag bided his time for another three years before being unveiled as the new manager of Manchester United.

Once touted as United’s answer to Pep Guardiola, the wheels fell off quickly and Ten Hag became the first Manchester United manager since John Chapman in 1921 to lose his first two games in charge.

He enjoyed relative success in his first season at Old Trafford and won the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 win over Newcastle in the final.

But after qualifying for the Champions League with a third place finish in the league, Ten Hag’s side finished bottom of their group which included Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen.

Manchester United currently sit eighth in the Premier League, mathematically unable to qualify for the Champions League and needing to win their final two games for a chance of any European football at Old Trafford next season.

The biggest problem of Ten Hag’s leadership is the lack of evident philosophy on the pitch. 

Following United’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in November, Ten Hag defended his style of play which has come under intense criticism throughout his time in England.

“I can’t play like Ajax because I have different players. I came here with my philosophy, based on possession, but I wanted to combine it with the DNA of Manchester United, the players and their characters.”

The question mark over Ten Hag’s time at Manchester United was raised again following their 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Monday.

And with reports that Bayern Munich have shortlisted the 54-year-old to succeed the outgoing Thomas Tuchel – it could be a case of jump before you are pushed for Erik ten Hag.

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Louis van Gaal (Manchester United)

Another ex-Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal was arguably given the hardest task in football in restoring Manchester United to the top of English football.

Succeeding David Moyes who replaced Sir Alex Ferguson, United were in danger of falling off their pedestal. 

Beginning his managerial career at Ajax, Van Gaal went on to manage Barcelona, Bayern Munich and the Dutch national team before taking the reins at Old Trafford.

After 10 league matches, Van Gaal had managed only 13 points and his side sat ninth in the league.

Speaking after their 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, the Dutchman outlined the task ahead, saying: “It’s not good enough. But on the other hand, we are in a process, as I have said from the beginning.

“The process shall take more than one year; it shall take three years.”

Van Gaal wouldn’t last three years and was sacked at the end of his second season at the club, two days after winning the FA Cup.

He immediately brought Champions League football back to Old Trafford, finishing fourth in his first season, but missed out the following year, finishing fifth on goal difference behind Manchester City.

Despite showing glimpses of form during his tenure, the pressures of immediate success in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era brought an end to his short stint in Manchester.

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Frank De Boer (Crystal Palace)

After one year in charge at Ajax, Frank De Boer was presented with his first opportunity to manage in the Premier League.

Liverpool approached De Boer in 2012 to succeed Sir Kenny Dalglish but were rejected by the Dutchman and appointed Brendan Rodgers instead.

Speaking to the Daily Mail following his departure from Inter Milan, De Boer revealed why he turned down a move to Anfield.

“I would love to manage here, but the project has to be right. I told Liverpool I was honoured but I was only one year in at Ajax, it was too soon. I needed to achieve more, and I did.”

De Boer won a record four consecutive Eredivisie titles at Ajax during his tenure and resigned after losing out on a fifth title to PSV on the last game of the 2015/16 season.

He lasted only 85 days as manager of Inter Milan in the following season before finally finding himself in England as manager of Crystal Palace.

His spell at Selhurst Park was far more disastrous compared to his time at the San Siro.

Crystal Palace became the first team in 93 years to lose their opening four Premier League matches without scoring a goal.

De Boer was in charge for 77 days and five games in charge, the shortest managerial reign in Premier League history.

In a pre-match press conference, Jose Mourinho, who was manager of Manchester United at the time, described De Boer as the worst manager in the history of the Premier League.

“I read something, some quote from the worst manager in the history of the Premier League – Frank De Boer,” said the ‘Special One’. “What he was saying was not good for Marcus Rashford to have a coach like me, because the most important thing for me is to win.

“If he was coached by Frank he would lose because he lost every game.”

Slotting into the Premier League

With a mixture of experience, promise and disaster, the record of managers landing in the Premier League from the Eredivisie is underwhelming to say the least.

Bayer Leverkusen manager and former Liverpool player Xabi Alonso looked the favourite to succeed Klopp until he announced that he will remain in Germany.

Now with speculation of Sporting CP boss Ruben Amorim cooling in recent weeks it looks all-but confirmed that Arne Slot will be in the Anfield dugout next season.

Whilst his reportedly imminent appointment may underwhelm Liverpool fans given the record of former Eredivisie managers in the Premier League – Slot could be the exception.

Michael Edwards’ return as CEO of football was a statement that the club are in capable hands and he has used his tried and tested data driven approach to identify Klopp’s successor.

Slot’s Feyenoord side challenged the dominant Ajax and PSV through an aggressive pressing-based style of play and an ability to succeed on a budget.

He primarily sets his side up in a 4-2-3-1 which could provide a resurgence to loanee Fabio Carvalho and Dominik Szoboslai, who has been a shadow of his former self since returning from injury.

With similarities to Klopp’s ‘heavy metal’ football which has brought success to Liverpool in recent years, it seems Slot will have no problem implementing his style at Anfield.

Reports have been mixed regarding the response within Anfield on the potential appointment of Slot.

According to the Daily Mail, the players are ‘delighted’ that Slot will replace Klopp.

But recent reports have claimed that the players are themselves underwhelmed with the Dutchman, having not been consulted in the process.

Liverpool journalist Neil Jones has spoken to the Daily Briefing on why Slot has been identified as the perfect candidate.

“Slot’s appeal is that he has achieved success at two different clubs, both of whom have punched above their weight with him as manager,” said Jones.

“He has not had huge sums to spend, or players on huge wages, and he has been able to stamp his authority on a team in terms of a clearly-defined style of play, as well as impressive communication skills.

“Those points all ensured he was eventually deemed the one.”

Regardless of who the fan base preferred or the players preferred, identifying a Jurgen Klopp successor was always going to be a monumental task.

But with Edwards in charge of the process and his track record of identifying players during his time as sporting director, I have full faith whoever is in charge at Anfield next season will be the perfect fit.

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Connor Burgess
Connor Burgess
Freelance Sports Journalist and Sports Journalism (MA) student. Lover of football, NFL and boxing.

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