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Liverpool Premier League odds: Reds 8/1 to win title in Arne Slot's first season as manager

Following the shock announcement earlier this year that Jurgen Klopp would step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season, attention immediately turned to who would succeed the club legend in the Anfield dugout.

Premier League 2024/25

Arise, Arne Slot. Fresh off the back of winning a second major honour in successive seasons at Feyenoord in the form of the KNVB Cup, the 45-year-old has been identified by Liverpool’s new hierarchy led by incoming directors Michael Edwards and Richard Hughes as the man to fill the rather large shoes of the outgoing Klopp.

Delivering Liverpool’s sixth Champions League crown in 2019 and their first ever Premier League title the following year, Klopp was able to lay down what felt like a dynasty in Merseyside.

Such a long-term era of managerial success has proven to be difficult to follow in Premier League history, with the ill-fated tenures of David Moyes and Unai Emery as successors to Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger at Manchester United and Arsenal respectively serving as the most vivid examples.

Despite the task of succeeding Klopp appearing somewhat daunting from the outside, the incoming Slot can be acknowledged to be inheriting a talent-laden squad at Liverpool which was capable of mounting a Premier League title charge for the majority of this campaign before ultimately falling short at the end of the season.

A largely unknown figure in English football, we examine the profile and credentials of Dutchman Slot and assess what he could bring to this Liverpool side as a post-Klopp era looms over Anfield.

Liverpool are priced at 8/1 to win the Premier League in Slot's first season in charge in 2024/25.

Who is Arne Slot?

Having spent the majority of his playing career as a midfielder in the Dutch second tier at clubs such as PEC Zwolle, NAC Breda and Sparta Rotterdam, Slot was observed as a manager in waiting by his peers in light of his attention to tactical details.

Aware of his own limitations as a player, such as a notable lack of pace, Slot became engrossed in the principles of togetherness, pressing and organisation in order for a team to be moulded into a collective stronger than the sum of its parts.

Destined for a future in coaching, Slot took on a role with PEC Zwolle’s youth academy upon his retirement in 2013, before moving on to serve as assistant manager at provincial Eredivisie club Cambuur for three years.

It was at AZ Alkmaar where Slot began to garner a reputation for himself as a promising young coach in the Netherlands, first acting as John van den Brom’s assistant before being promoted to the top job in 2019.

In his first season in charge of AZ, a club whose ‘Moneyball’ approach to statistical analysis in their transfer recruitment is comparable to that of new Liverpool football director Michael Edwards, Slot led his charges to joint-top of the league alongside Ajax before the season was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic with just nine matches left to play.

Feyenoord had already seen enough of Slot to tempt them into bringing him to Rotterdam ahead of the 2021/22 season, with the Dutch giants having endured a forgettable campaign which saw them finish outside of the European places in fifth, a staggering 29 points behind champions Ajax.

Charged with injecting new hope into a disgruntled Feyenoord support, Slot was able to quickly establish an eye-catching brand of football at De Kuip, with the 16-time Dutch champions eventually finishing in a commendable third-place in the league and as runners-up to Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the Europa Conference League.

Things would get even better in his second campaign, with a vibrant Feyenoord side cruising to just a second Eredivisie title win in 24 years, losing just one match all season.

Heavily linked with a move to the Premier League as Antonio Conte's replacement at Tottenham last summer, Slot opted to rebuff the North Londoners' advances and stay put at Feyenoord.

Although Feyenoord have relinquished their Eredivisie title to an outstanding and pertinently considerably more expensively assembled PSV Eindhoven side led by Peter Bosz this term, Slot's charges finished as comfortable runners-up in the league in what was another impressive campaign overall for the Rotterdam side.

This second-placed league finish comes alongside a first KNVB Cup triumph for six years, with Feyenoord also obtaining huge bragging rights over famous rivals Ajax – winning 4-0 and 6-0 in back-to-back humiliations for the Amsterdam side in De Klassieker.

This success appears even more remarkable considering Slot has been forced to cope with the departures of a number of key players in the past two summers, such as Premier League imports Luis Sinisterra, Marcos Senesi and Tyrell Malacia.

Slot Ball: Pep in style, Klopp in nature

Already demonstrating his ability to win, it is the style of play that Slot has been able to implement at AZ and Feyenoord which perhaps stands out most about his impressive work in management to date.

An open admirer and disciple of Pep Guardiola’s coaching philosophy, Slot is reported to have regularly shown his AZ side videos of the way in which the Catalan’s Bayern Munich and Manchester City teams created space and launched attacks.

The Dutchman endorses an attacking way of playing which revolves around dominating possession and an intense pressing game off the ball, to such an extent that his methods have been compared to those of ex-Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa.

Slot's Feyenoord team commonly lined up in a an expansive 4-2-3-1 formation not dissimilar to the Johan Cruyff-inspired Total Football employed by the Netherlands national team during the 1970s.

This set-up is not far away from the system implemented by predecessor Klopp, with the main difference in structure in midfield with Slot's Feyenoord utilising a number six, number eight and number 10 which would represent a move away from Klopp's preference for one holding midfielder and two number eights at Liverpool.

Slot's tactics can therefore be compared with those of fellow Guardiola disciple Mikel Arteta, with Arsenal's most common set-up this season seeing deep-lying playmaker Jorginho and the box-to-box Declan Rice deployed in the double pivot, with Gunners skipper Martin Odegaard given more creative freedom ahead of them to create and score goals.

Just like Gunners duo Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, wingers acting as inside forwards are at the forefront of Slot teams' attacking play, with Feyenoord wide duo Yankuba Minteh and Igor Paixao netting 19 goals between them in the Eredivisie this season.

Full-backs also have an important role to play within Slot sides, with both the right-back and left-back receiving plenty of the ball in build-up play and getting forward to help create overloads in the final third, with Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson likely to relish this responsibility as the two highest assist-making defenders in Premier League history.

Slot has also been known to successfully convert players into different roles to suit the team, in a manner comparable to Guardiola utilising John Stones as a defensive midfielder towards the end of Man City's Treble-winning campaign last term and Mikel Arteta's recent deployment of Ben White as a right-back.

Although Slot shares a Klopp-like emphasis on high pressing - with Feyenoord topping the Eredivisie for goal-ending high turnovers - his tactical philosophy which focuses on controlling matches is more akin to Guardiola than his German predecessor's self-described 'heavy metal football'.

As for Slot the man, the Dutchman draws several parallels with Klopp, as a charismatic figure with excellent proficiency in English.

Slot is known to be a fantastic communicator who enjoys close relationships with his players, and carries an aura about him which is likely to endear himself to a Liverpool support who wish to see the values of the club upheld by a strong leadership symbol.

The incoming Liverpool boss is unlikely to experience the same trouble as compatriot Erik ten Hag in striking a chord with the English media and supporters given his strong communication skills, but naturally results on the pitch will dictate his early reception in the Premier League.

With Klopp having made the decision to step down at Liverpool primarily as a result of 'running out of energy', his successor will certainly bring a freshness and dynamism to the Anfield dugout in the new season.

Summer crossroads

Slot's transition into becoming manager of one of the biggest clubs in world football will certainly not be aided by the uncertainty regarding the contract situations of arguably the three most important players in Liverpool's squad - goalscoring talisman Mohamed Salah, club captain Virgil van Dijk and homegrown favourite Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool's all-time Premier League scorer, Salah's future at the Reds has come increasingly under the microscope given the longstanding interest from the Saudi Pro League and the fact the Egyptian will be 32 come the start of next season.

Club legend or not, extending the contract of the team's highest earner who is beginning to show signs of slowing down is certainly not aligned with returning Liverpool director Michael Edwards' Moneyball approach to maximising the potential of the squad in line with financial capacity.

There is less transfer speculation surrounding Van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold despite their contract status, but both players may now wish to see what new boss Slot has to offer before putting pen to paper on new deals at Anfield.

Three of the key faces of the Klopp era at Liverpool, Slot will likely be keen to obtain clarity on contracts quickly in order to eliminate as many lingering question marks as possible and establish a clear vision for his team moving forward.

Although Slot will take charge of a strong squad at Liverpool, with the club having invested over £140m on midfield quartet Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo last summer, it is also important for the incoming manager to be backed with a few significant signings of his own this summer in order to help stamp his own authority on the team.

This was one area in which Manchester United could be acknowledged to have got things wrong during the transition from the tenure of Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes in the summer of 2013, with the Red Devils making just one major signing in the form of Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

Regarding recruitment, Slot will delegate much responsibility in terms of talent ID to Liverpool director Michael Edwards and the Reds' wider scouting department, a similar structure in which he operated in at Feyenoord - a club who have never spent more than €8.3m on a single transfer.

As well as new signings, Slot is also likely to turn to Liverpool's academy for fresh blood, with the average age of his Feyenoord team in the Eredivisie last season just 23.9.

He will not be short of talented youngsters to work with at his new club, with the strength of Liverpool's academy there for all to see in the EFL Cup final at Wembley in February as a number of youth team players were fielded due to injuries as the Reds prevailed 1-0 over Chelsea after extra time.

Conor Bradley and Jarell Quansah were able to successfully break into the first team squad over the course of last season, and there are also high hopes at the club for fellow young prospects including Jayden Danns, Ben Doak and Bobby Clark.

In what is set to be a defining summer for the club on a number of fronts, it would not be a surprise to see a markedly different first team picture at Liverpool this time next year under the auspices of new leader Arne Slot.

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