Who is Arne Slot? The Dutchman leading the race to replace Klopp at Liverpool – and how he might transform the Reds


Despite the short nature of his tenure as a professional manager, Arne Slot has established himself as arguably the most impressive manager outside of the top five leagues, as well as someone more than worthy of the interest he is receiving from clubs such as Liverpool.

At his first coaching job, with Dutch minnows SC Cambuur, he took the club from 14th to 3rd as well as their best ever cup finish, beating giants Ajax and Utrecht en route to a semi-final, ultimately only losing to AZ Alkmaar on penalties, quite impressive for a second-division side.

Then, the former midfielder moved to AZ, where he averaged more points per game than any other coach in club history, as well as being level on points with a historically good Ajax team at the time of the 2020 season’s cancellation due to Covid.

His fantastic job in Alkmaar earned him a move to perennial Dutch titans Feyenoord, where he inherited a team that had finished a meek fifth in the Eredivisie. In his three seasons at Feyenoord, they have won the Eredivisie for the first time since 2016, won the cup, and reached a European final.

Feyenoord head coach Arne Slot celebrates with the TOTO KNVB Cup trophy after the Dutch TOTO KNVB Cup Final between Feyenoord and NEC Nijmegen at Stadion Feijenoord on April 21, 2024 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/MB Media/Getty Images)

Slot is, tactics wise, a true student of the Dutch coaching school. His defences consist of a ball-playing goalkeeper and centre-backs, with modern wingbacks. At Feyenoord Rotterdam, the versatile right back Lutsharel Geertruida will either tuck in behind with the centre backs or join the midfield during build-up. The left sided Quilindschy Hartman plays higher up, progressing the ball through both runs and passes.

His midfield plays with a classic 6, 8, and 10. Feyenoord’s current 6, the remarkably impressive Mats Wieffer, operates like a vacuum cleaner defensively and a metronome offensively. The main ball-progressing duties lie with Quinten Timber, who will often dribble through the lines to advance play, while his 10, Calvin Stengs, is a creator. Slot’s strikers participate in build-up play, dropping deep to create. Overall, Feyenoord’s on-the-ball play is possession based and relatively slow.

Arne Slot’s Feynoord ball progression & combinations against PSV pic.twitter.com/6jdS7b2it8

— Alex (@yalexo_) April 24, 2024

Out of possession, Slot expects his players to press with a high amount of intensity. His Feyenoord teams have consistently been recognised as the fittest team in the Eredivisie, and they look to win the ball high up on the field.

However, Slot has shown an ability to innovate and change when it suits his players or the game-situation. When in need of a goal, Slot has consistently changed his system to accommodate two strikers, and he often starts defensive midfielder Ramiz Zerrouki to create a midfield three with Wieffer and Timber in games where Feyenoord needed to control possession. Although this seems like something all managers would do, the major critique of Erik ten Hag at Ajax was his insistence on playing the same group of players, regardless of game scenario and form.

This brings us to a point of difference between Slot, ten Hag, and Peter Bosz, the two other coaches to go from the Eredivisie to major foreign clubs recently: his character. Ten Hag and Bosz have been accused of being stubborn and uncharismatic. While he is as shamelessly direct as any Dutch person worth their clogs, he feels more personable and adaptable than both ten Hag and Bosz.

Arne Slot all over my timeline. As you know, I’m a Feyenoord fan. Read the most ridiculous opinions, talking about (lack of) aura, baldness, etc.

Best manager I followed up close & if anyone has charisma/authority/aura, it’s him.

+ the football is..????pic.twitter.com/FmvUtWrdhJ

— Serbian Football Scout (@SerbFootyScout) April 23, 2024

As well as this, he has an ability to tap into the personality of his clubs to succeed. Rotterdam’s identity is one of a working-class city, that outworks and is less pretentious than their cousins in Amsterdam. At Feyenoord, he has made true Rotterdammers like Hartman, Malacia, Geertruida, and Bijlow, as well as hard workers and mentality monsters like Wieffer, Timber, Hancko, Trauner, and Gimenez the cornerstones of his team. These are players that represent what Feyenoord stands for.

Liverpool actually has a relatively similar identity to Feyenoord, both being working class, port-cities and I imagine there are a few players at Feyenoord who could interest Slot. Specifically, rock-solid Mats Wieffer, industrious Left Back Quilindschy Hartman, and the do-it-all Lutsharel Geertuida could be of interest. Slot’s former midfielder at AZ Teun Koopmeiners has also been previously linked with Liverpool.

I’d also imagine Slot makes signing a proper striker a priority, as he usually opts for a a classic centre forward rather than the rotating attackers Liverpool has operated with this season. Ajax phenom Brian Brobbey and all-round centre forward Joshua Zirkzee could be options, along with Sporting CP talisman Victor Gyökeres.

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