Arne ten Slot

Published: Monday, 29 April 2024

He was the stand-out choice among a strong field of candidates. He set out a long-term vision to build a successful, exciting team’.

On the appointment of the Dutchman the above was the sort of thing that was being said. Also ‘he was the manager most closely aligned with the identity and aims of the club - including a commitment to attacking football’.

There was also this ‘he showed passion, energy and enthusiasm for the challenge’.

Oh. And of course it was mentioned that he was a ‘proven winner’. The message to the fans was that they should ‘show patience’ as the new man set about building a successful team.

The problem turned out to be that none of the above was true. And they’re nothing to do with anyone at Anfield - yet. They’re the words of John Murtough, the former football director at Manchester United and the man responsible for appointing Erik ten Hag. Looking at them again now it makes me wonder who exactly he was trying to persuade. Perhaps himself?

It’s taken too long, but at least United are now on the cusp of correcting the monumental error they made when appointing ten Hag.

He was never the right man. And regulars will know my view has never wavered.

The truth is - he got the Utd job on the back of dominating a small league with the biggest club in that league and after winning three consecutive titles. But that’s exactly what he should’ve done. He had the best players and good resources. Ok, there was a CL semi-final, but none of this made him one of the best coaches in Europe. None of it qualified him for the job at OT.

I’m not revisiting this simply to remind Utd fans of the nonsense Murtough spouted. They’ve lived it. They know first hand how bad it’s been. Ten Hag was out of his depth from the moment he walked into OT. Do you remember when he came up with the cunning plan to switch the dug-outs round? Genius. What on earth was that all about?

No. I mention it because I believe Liverpool are about to make the same mistakes that Utd did. Arne ten Slot. Really? Not for me. And I’m not alone. There isn’t a Liverpool fan that I’ve spoken to isn’t totally underwhelmed by the news ten Slot is going to replace Klopp.

Ok. Let’s cut him some slack. I accept we don’t know. It could turn out to be an inspired appointment. But I’m not convinced.

Why ten Slot? (I know that’s not his name but he’s mini-me isn’t he?). I guarantee you we’ll hear all the same things they said about ten Hag when Liverpool finally unveil their man. What you won’t hear is an admission that he wasn’t first choice. Or that his record in Holland isn’t even as good as ten Hag’s was.

In amongst the things I’ve read about him so far was a revealing line that ten Slot will not be ‘manager’ at Anfield. He’s going to be ‘head coach’.

Why is that significant? Well - I believe because it cements Michael Edwards’ position as ‘head of football’.

Edwards has only recently returned to Liverpool after a two-year absence. Perhaps it’s just co-incidence he’s back when Klopp is leaving? But I don’t believe it is. Talk to insiders and they’ll tell you he left after a fall-out with Klopp, who ended up running Liverpool from top to bottom. Quite simply - Edwards lost the power struggle.

There is no way Edwards would’ve returned to the club unless he had assurances about having total control of all football matters. That meant he’d be working with a coach - not a manager. Whether he’s chosen the right one only time will tell.

At Brighton Roberto De Zerbi continues to write his resignation letter. After the defeat to Bournemouth he returned to a now familiar theme - but with a little bit of a twist.

We already knew he doesn’t believe Brighton match his ambition (honestly - the arrogance) but now he’s turned on his players, who he says, ‘lack motivation’. Wow. It’s over.

Brighton’s latest defeat means that only Sheff U, Burnley and Forest have a worse record than theirs this season. They’ve won just six of their last 28. If Sean Dyche, David Moyes or any other domestic coach had a record like that there would be screams for them to be sacked.

The Italian will leave at the end of the season - I’m hearing to be replaced by Thomas Frank, who can think himself unlucky not to have been linked with bigger jobs. Liverpool? Why not?

A quick question - would VAR have awarded Villa a pen for the offence that saw Chelsea’s winning goal ruled out?

As we prepare to watch the last day of the C’ship season I can’t help but think B’ham deserve to go down. What a mess they made of their season. Think back - they were sixth when they fired John Eustace. I feel sorry for their fans, who were promised too much and were delivered nothing. It’s another lesson in being careful what you wish for.