Arne Slot will have the job of his career on once he walks through the doors at Liverpool, but things are good at Anfield…


A NEW manager, then.

I could sit here and tell you that I’ve watched Arne Slot’s rise from his Academy days at PEC Zwolle and have long prophesied his almost inevitable ascendence to the greatest job in world football, but you’re too smart to fall for that. All I know is that it’s the beginning of a new age.

New ages come with new issues. What sort of things can his players look forward to? A breezy set of systems built with wellness in mind? Or a harsh, authoritarian regime? Can they still knock off early on Fridays?

Personally, I’m not a fan of uncertainty. If something works, don’t change it, but we can’t do that. In any case, Arne Slot isn’t Jürgen Klopp and must be allowed to do his own thing under his own steam. He faces numerous decisions before he’s even walked through the door.

Where does he play Trent Alexander-Arnold? Which does he prefer as a nine? Darwin Nunez or Cody Gakpo? Jarell Quansah over Ibou Konate? Is he having Mo Salah’s new haircut?

This is an unusual time inasmuch as a new manager usually replaces a failing one, but that’s far from the case here. Slot has to deal with a fan base who are still wistfully looking at Jürgen’s empty car park space rather than a group of people baying for change (see Kenny Dalglish replacing Roy Hodgson).

But he must be allowed to go at his own speed. He must set his own targets.

It’s hard to know what they could be. Jürgen brought in a trophy and the return of Champions League football in his final term. If Arne can do that straight out of the gate he’d be off to a flyer.

Then again, Rafa Benitez came in after the mind-numbingly dull 2003-04 season and promptly delivered another European Cup through the greatest game in our history. No pressure, there.

And this is before Arne has to deal with all the external stuff around his job.

Mad kick-off times, little resting time between games, stupid international friendlies, an autocratic refereeing body who goes on national television to tell you that wrongs are right, state-owned rivals with the spending power of Croesus on pay day and, of course, the most bipolar fan base in the world.

Not easy, is it?

But that’s the game now. Coaching, tactics and management play only a small part of the whole. The whole ephemera around it must be exhausting. That’s not just the case for the bigger clubs.

On his first day in charge of Swindon Town, Glenn Hoddle had to buy new washing machines for the woman who washed the kit. Not quite what he expected when he left for work that day.

Hopefully he’ll be spared that. We’re probably alright for white goods.

And he comes in with a hell of a squad, a buoyant youth team, the final days of Pep Guardiola (if the rumours are to be believed) and a support guaranteed to sing his name.

As I said, I know little about him. The only footage I’ve seen is him hoofing the ball into the air Rugby League-style during his playing days and his laughing his arse off when Antony, the world’s most loved footballer, feigned injury in front of him when Feyenoord played Ajax. Both incidents made me like him immediately.

The future will be interesting, but also a little daunting for those who fear change. He’s going to need patience and faith as well as that sense of humour to deliver what’s required here. This is his time now and we can’t colour it with what’s gone on before.

Maybe one day he’ll leave Liverpool to fanfare and songs about his replacement. Maybe he too will start up an Instagram account which I can’t stop watching. I hope so.

All very exciting, all very frightening.

A new age. Here we go again.

Good luck, everyone.


Pre-order Neil Atkinson’s book ‘Transformer’ and help us get a Sunday Times bestseller…

Recent Posts: