Arne Slot: The Dutch football view on likely new Liverpool manager

With the news that Liverpool are on the verge of appointing Arne Slot as the club’s new manager, we spoke with Dutch football expert Arthur Renard to get the lowdown on the incoming boss.


Tell us about Slot’s style of play; we hear that he favours a 4-2-3-1 formation, is very possession based and quite a high pressing game. How similar is his style to Jurgen’s?

Yeah, there is definitely a similarity, I think especially in the the high pressing, there’s definitely a similarity with the current Liverpool [but] Jurgen may be is a little bit different. You could maybe say that that Jurgen is a bit more direct.

Arne Slot likes to build and play a little bit more football through the whole pitch, whereas maybe Klopp you could argue, he’s maybe more direct.

What I like about Slot is that he likes to play his game and the pressing game wherever he plays and against anyone. So it doesn’t matter if he plays, let’s say Real Madrid away or whatever game, he plays his style. And that is something I think Liverpool fans will like a lot.


In your article for BBC Sport, you mention Pep Guardiola’s influence on Slot. Tell us about that.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola speaks with Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He’s a big fan of Guardiola, so I would say his style even more towards Guardiola [than Klopp], although I guess with Guardiola and Klopp they’d both like their teams to have the ball to attack.

He’s a huge admirer of of Guardiola. He [Slot] said: “Pep Guardiola gives me the ultimate joy in football.

“There is no team in the world I would rather watch than Manchester City, followed by Napoli, Arsenal and Brighton.

“But City – and again it is not my intention to compare us with them – have a similar style of play to how we want to play with Feyenoord: 4-3-3, building up from the back, wanting to apply pressure quickly.”

It could be, those Liverpool-Man City games if he gets appointed, that could be really interesting!


We’ve heard a lot about how he develops players and gets the most out of them, signing some gems at Feyenoord?

Arne Slot, Feyenoord (Getty Images, Via UEFA Handout)

The striker, Santiago Gimenez, he came also for not that much money (€6m) and he has proved, especially in the title-winning season last year, he proved such an important player.

Slot’s managed to get some really good players on the cheap – and that must be music to the ears of the Liverpool owners.

There’s been quite a few players in the last few years and they’ve developed pretty well. He also has some young talents. There is one, Quilindschy Hartman, who actually made his debut for the Dutch national team as well (recently). If he is fit, I wouldn’t be surprised if he will play at the Euros. He’s a bit like Trent, a local guy, a wingback kind of player.

He [Slot] definitely has an eye for young talent and also has the kind of guts to give them a chance in the team. That’s something Liverpool and definitely its owners will like.


What about Slot’s personality and interactions with players and media?

He seems to get on really well with his players. You don’t really hear players being unhappy. He seems to have a very straightforward and relaxed approach.

There’s a clip of of of him at a team talk away at Ajax after the game, he’s he’s not really too emotional but but just kind of like (how) he is.

You can see he connects with his players but he still keeps some kind of like calm kind approach.


What about the concerns, the Premier League is a big step from Dutch football – as we’ve seen with Erik Ten Hag!

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 25, 2023: Manchester United's manager Erik ten Hag during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC at Old Trafford. Man Utd won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think it’s a good point – and in the end of the day you never know whether somebody will be a success or not.

Personally I think to succeed Jurgen Klopp is just very tough regardless who you are. Even Xabi Alonso, who seems to be at the moment the, the top of the top, probably would find it difficult.

In terms of comparisons with Ten Hag it’s difficult to compare. But the budgets [available at Ajax vs. Feyenoord] I think the last two years Feyenoord of has spent around maybe 30 million on players where Ajax had an outlay of around 200 million and [Feyenoord] finished both seasons above Ajax.

An interesting quote is from Marco van Basten, who was talking in a Dutch TV talk show, and he said he is just sure he [Slot] can do it at Liverpool.

He said ‘he can go to Bayern Munich, Liverpool, you name it, you know, and he will do well’. And he says ‘players at Liverpool are even better.’ So it’s easier for them to kind of translate his message on the pitch.

I think he can manage that, if Van Basten says that, that obviously tells you something.


Taking the job from Klopp probably says something about Slot’s character, backing himself?

2WYJR81 Rotterdam, The Netherlands. 07th Apr, 2024. Rotterdam - Feyenoord coach Arne Slot during the Eredivisie match between Feyenoord v Ajax at Stadion Feijenoord De Kuip on 7 April 2024 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Credit: box to box pictures/Alamy Live News

That definitely tells you something [and] probably it’s also a thing of you don’t get the Liverpool job offered every day! So that’s also a factor.

I think that’s a good thing about him, he’s not thinking too much in in dilemmas, in, in difficulties, in obstacles.

It is obviously a massive challenge to succeed someone like Klopp but he’s really positive; a really positive kind of person. He doesn’t really think in obstacles, but more in kind of like chances. And it’s a huge chance for him to to do well.


What’s your overall feeling, should Liverpool fans be optimistic?

Arne Slot of Feyenoord celebrates with the Eredivisie trophy during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Feyenoord and Go Ahead Eagles at Feijenoord Stadion on May 14, 2023 in Rotterdam, Netherlands (Photo by Peter Lous/Orange Pictures)

I think that they should be definitely optimistic.

I like to look at what he’s done so far. Because even before Feyenoord, he was the manager of AZ Alkmaar and he was doing really well; they were actually first or second in the league when the season got suspended because of corona – and in Holland, for him, unfortunately, the season was cancelled.

Maybe he could have won the league that year [2020].

If you can do it at different clubs; Liverpool fans should be really kind of, enthusiastic, because why would he not do that at Liverpool?

I think there’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic.

A massive thanks to Arthur for his insight. You can follow Arthur on X @arthurrenard87.

Read Arthur’s article on BBC Sport: Slot – the ‘control freak’ inspired by Guardiola.