Liverpool “seriously considered” 2 coaches in their 60s before hiring Arne Slot

Liverpool have hired a relatively young head coach in 45-year-old Arne Slot, but age was not a factor in their search – as two managers in their 60s ranked highly.

At the time of their appointment, Liverpool’s last two managers (Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp) and their new head coach (Slot) were 39, 48 and 45 respectively.

It has appeared a clear shift in strategy from Fenway Sports Group, hiring coaches with more potential than experience, with their two previous hires being Roy Hodgson at 62 and Kenny Dalglish at 59.

But though their search was widely reported to focus on younger candidates such as Xabi Alonso, 42, and Ruben Amorim, 39, there was no age limit.

According to The Athletic, Liverpool strongly considered Ernesto Valverde, 60, and Luciano Spalletti, 65, as options for Klopp’s successor.

Valverde is currently in his third stint as manager of Athletic Club, having also held positions at Espanyol, Olympiakos (twice), Villarreal, Valencia and Barcelona.

NAPLES, ITALY - Wednesday, September 7, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) speaks with SSC Napoli's head coach Luciano Spalletti before the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 1 game between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Napoli won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Spalletti, meanwhile, is in charge of the Italy national team, having stepped down from his post at Napoli last summer after leading the club to their first Serie A title since 1990.

In The Athletic’s report, Valverde is described as having been a “leading contender,” and Spalletti was “of significant interest.”

The pair were “seriously considered,” but as with the likes of Andoni Iraola, Eddie Howe, Sebastian Hoeness, Michel, Simone Inzaghi and Paulo Fonseca, were eventually overlooked for No. 1 target Slot.

Brave over popular

Arne Slot of Feyenoord get the applauds of the fans during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Feyenoord and PEC Zwolle at Stadion Feijenoord on May 5, 2024 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Hans van der Valk/Orange Pictures)

It was explained during their search that Liverpool, whose process was informed by data and led by Michael Edwards and Richard Hughes, were prepared to be “brave over popular” with their appointment.

That certainly would have been the case in hiring a manager older than Klopp as the German’s successor, particularly as he cited a lack of energy in his resignation.

But there is a case to argue that an arrival like Spalletti may have brought more immediate gravitas than Slot has, with the onus on the Dutchman to prove himself.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This even seems to be the case among the players, with Virgil van Dijk telling This Is Anfield that “everyone knows our expectations are always huge.”

“The Premier League and Liverpool is obviously a different ball game but we are here for him, I’ll be here for him whatever he needs,” the Dutchman said.

“It is all about sticking together and give him the chance of showing what he is capable of with the other guys who will come in.”