Why Liverpool may have hit the Jackpot with the Slot machine


"All I can say about it is that the clubs are in negotiations. I’m in the waiting room." As Liverpool's managerial pursuit went from Xabi Alonso to Ruben Amorim, Arne Slot is now the frontrunner to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Anfield next season. With the German departing at the end of the current campaign, rumours have been rife as to who will take charge. 


However, it seems as though Slot will be the man to take over the reins for the Reds next term. While Liverpool and Feyenoord are yet to agree on compensation, that's expected to be a mere formality for the Premier League side. As some Tottenham fan will remember, Slot came close to leaving the Dutch side for north London last summer before penning a new deal in Rotterdam.  


While Slot's side failed to defend their Eredivisie crown - they find themselves nine points behind league leaders PSV with three games to play - Feyenoord have still played some of the most exciting football in the division, this despite the departures of key players Orkun Kokcu and Sebastian Szymanski, the 24-year-old's loan deal expiring. Indeed, only PSV have scored more goals than Feyenoord (80), the latter also second to the former for key passes per game (15.9) in the Dutch top tier this term. 


What will have stood out for Liverpool, though, is the high-intensity approach that he implements at Feyenoord. It's not too dissimilar to the style Klopp uses for the Reds with the Dutch side having won possession in the attacking third more times (213) than any other team in the Eredivisie this season. Midfielder Quinten Timber (35) has done so more times than any other player in the division, while Santiago Gimenez (24), Calvin Stengs and on-loan winger Yankuba Minteh (both 22) also rank highly for Feyenoord. 



The aim is to force turnovers high up the pitch to create goalscoring opportunities, so it's no surprise that no team has scored more counter-attacking goals than Feyenoord (5) in the 2023/24 Eredivisie campaign. This comes despite Feyenoord having the second best possession average (61.8%) in the division, with Slot not only wanting to control proceedings but has a desire for his side to win the ball back quickly when opponents are in possession. 


In addition, the systems both Klopp and Slot implement are similar with the former favouring a 4-3-3 and the latter a 4-2-3-1. Slot's system relies on two hard-working central midfielders operating at the base of the side, in this case Mats Wieffer and Timber play these roles well with the latter granted the freedom to push forward and support the offensive. At Liverpool, Klopp has a similar pairing, albeit in a slighty tweaked setup, with Wataru Endo operating as the shield for the backline and Alexis Mac Allister allowed to push up field. 


The issue for Slot, then, will be who operates in the number 10 role, this working on the assumption that the 45-year-old looks to utilise a 4-2-3-1 system. While Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch are being suited centrally, in Dominik Szoboszlai; Slot has a very good fit to play behind the strikers. No team has scored more goals from outside the box than Feyenoord (10) in the Eredivisie this season, and one of the Hungarian's key traits is the desire to test a goalkeeper from range. After all, one of Szoboszlai's statistically calculated WhoScored strengths happens to be 'long shots'. 


In terms of build up play, Slot looks to his centre-backs to instigate attacks but is willing to mix up the approach. There is a huge onus on the full-backs under Klopp to get forward and stretch opponents but 32% of Feyenoord's attacks come through the middle of the park, the highest proportion in the division. 35% come down the left and 32% down the right, so Slot is prepared to play down the flanks but with two closer central midfielders rather than three spread across the middle of the park, he's prepared to use the deeper-lying pair to help drive the team forward rather than rely solely on the full-backs and wingers. 


With Michael Edwards leading the push for a new head coach, one can appreciate Slot's appeal. The Dutchman has worked well to improve individual players and the collective, all while working on a smaller budget than his rivals, and with Edwards heading up recruitment; Liverpool may have hit the jackpot with Slot.

Why Liverpool may have hit the Jackpot with the Slot machine