KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Friday, July 5, 2024: Liverpool's new head coach Arne Slott (L) and Sporting Director Richard Hughes are presented at a photo call at the club's AXA Training Centre. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arne Slot faces tricky start to life at Liverpool – but has time on his side

There are just 44 days from Liverpool’s first day of pre-season to their opening game – and it’s fair to say that the club have a lot of boxes to tick between now and then to help the new manager.

We all know that Jurgen Klopp‘s exit triggered the departure of key figures in the coaching staff and behind the scenes, even leading to the club advertising roles on LinkedIn.

The upheaval at the AXA Training Centre has been vast and has left few departments untouched, an expected turn of events in the post-Klopp era but still an uncomfortable one.

Liverpool have a new head coach taking on his most important job to date, his first outside his native Netherlands, and he will be short on a number of key components this summer.

The first and most notable one for fans will be first-team players, with 14 involved across the Euros and Copa America, which will see them all have a delayed return to training.

With only six weeks from the first day of pre-season to the time the team face Ipswich in the 12.30pm kickoff, it leaves little time to get to grips with all the new demands.


Too many vacancies

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 17, 2024: Liverpool's xxxx during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match between BC Atalanda and Liverpool FC. (Photo by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

Arne Slot‘s tactical instructions will be one, of course, but so is establishing rapport and a relationship between the Dutchman, the staff he is to bring in, and the players.

Currently, only three of his support staff have been confirmed: Sipke Hulshoff (assistant head coach), Ruben Peeters (lead performance coach) and Fabian Otte (goalkeeper coach).

Notably with the latter, he was working with the United States at Copa America and there had been concerns he may not be around for the start of pre-season, like Claudio Taffarel.

Taffarel is with Brazil, who are to at least feature in the quarter-finals, leaving the Reds short on numbers after the departures of John Achterberg and Jack Robinson.

An ad was posted earlier this summer for a specialist set-piece coach, with Klop’s assistant, Peter Krawietz, previously filling that duty.

DOHA, QATAR - Monday, December 5, 2022: Brazil's goalkeeper Alisson Becker (R) with goalkeeper coach Claudio Taffarel during the pre-match warm-up before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Brazil and South Korea at the Stadium 974. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A new strength and conditioning coach along with a first-team physio and an off-field role as performance insights lead were later advertised on LinkedIn, in addition to a player care administrator.

All key positions in their own right and a nod to how much change is going on behind the scenes at the club, one that has been a picture of stability for quite some time.

Liverpool and Slot will navigate it as best they can while filling the roles with the best possible candidate, but it is a dangerous game to play when so much rests on the new manager getting off to a good start.


Not a straightforward summer

Slot impressed with how conducted himself in his first interview with club media; he was respectful and yet firm enough to acknowledge change will be in motion.

He came across as ready for the challenge and the pressure it will inevitably entail – and we will get another look when he talks to the media on Friday morning – but the reality of the summer is that it is not going to be straightforward.

In some respect, he is walking into a well-oiled machine, but some of the parts have been taken out and need replacing, and he won’t be in one consistent place to knuckle down and tend to it.

The Reds travel to the United States in late July for close to two weeks, travelling to three different cities rather than being based in one location for a training camp, as was Klopp’s preference during his time in charge.

The US tour will inevitably involve media and commercial commitments, different and difficult weather climates and a changing squad dynamic.

2JA44XE Liverpool's Mohamed Salah boards the plane before flying out of John Lennon Airport, ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final in Paris on Saturday. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2022.

There are so many plates on the spin at one moment in time, one on hand it is good early practice for Slot, but it does raise concerns of unnecessary pressure being placed at his doorstep.

It includes missing players, staff positions still to be appointed, transfers, and barely any time to work with his entire group at the same time before the early start to the Premier League season.

Just four friendlies is a very low amount of game-time, too. Most clubs have far more pre-season games, and when you consider that most of Slot’s first-team players won’t be involved in the first two or three, it really does look difficult.

A slow start to the season would see pressure build but there will undoubtedly be leniency, and Klopp hit the nail on the hand when he said we decide the mood.

Liverpool have had plenty of time to get their ducks in a row and that so much is still in the air means there is plenty of danger to their approach and how it will fire back on Slot.

How much will change between his first day of pre-season and when he walks out at Portman Road for his first official game in charge?