Arne Slot: I came to Liverpool to immediately challenge Arsenal and Manchester City

Arne Slot – Arne Slot: I have been watching videos of Jurgen Klopp's training sessions to steal his ideas
Arne Slot arrives on Merseyside after three seasons with Dutch club Feyenoord

Liverpool’s new manager Arne Slot immediately set his sights on overhauling Manchester City and Arsenal after acknowledging the scale of the task facing him as Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield replacement.

Speaking for the first time since his appointment, the Dutchman vowed to build on the 82 points and third-place finish of last season, with the theme of his opening address emphasising putting his stamp on the solid foundations left by his iconic predecessor.

There were no quotes quite as memorable as Klopp’s promise to turn “doubters into believers” during the 28-minute unveiling video published by the club website – the club is in a different place in 2024 compared to 2015 – but Slot understands the immediate expectations after an era of success.

“We would all love to see Liverpool a bit higher than third place and this is the challenge we are facing now – to build on from what we have,” said Slot.

“I have all the confidence in this because of the players, that we can add a few things where we hopefully can get a bit more points than 82, which is necessary with the likes of Arsenal and [Manchester] City, to end up hopefully a bit higher than we did this season.”

Slot paid tribute to Klopp by claiming the football played by Liverpool and Manchester City under him and Pep Guardiola propelled the European game in the manner of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during the peak years of Barcelona’s rivalry with Real Madrid.

The new coach has been watching video footage of Klopp’s training sessions as well as Liverpool’s games to assume a greater understanding of the legacy he is building upon.

“One of the reasons why I came in, because I think the way Liverpool ‘scouted’ me, is they were looking for, not the exact same type, but I think when something has been successful (with) a certain way of playing and you would like to extend this or to go on with this,” said Slot.

“It is my style, but I think it is the style of many modern coaches at the moment: we were all a bit inspired because of the rivalry between Manchester City and Liverpool. We were all inspired by Guardiola and Klopp. At a big club, which I worked in in Feyenoord as well, it is probably the only style you can play – to have the ball a lot and to have a lot of energy.

“I am 45 now and watching football for a long time and watching football a lot, and I think this has been an era where everybody looked at the Barcelona side of Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta and (Lionel) Messi and the rivalry there was between Real Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo being there.

“I think when that came to an end, the new rivalry in European football came because of Jürgen – he managed Liverpool and Pep Guardiola, of course, managed Manchester City. I think for everyone who loves football it was a fantastic era to watch the both of them getting the best out of each other.

I have seen a lot of games of Liverpool, a lot of games of City as well, and when you live in Europe the Premier League is probably the nicest league to follow. So, yeah, he has done a tremendous job over here and I am really happy with that as a fan, but now as his successor. He left Liverpool in the best possible way, I think.”

‘Klopp gave me more than a few good tips’

Slot revealed he has spoken to Klopp for advice on the club and the players he has been left behind. Familiarity with moderate changes appears to be the overriding plan in Slot’s debut season.

“If someone has worked at a club for nine years and been so successful, you want to know all about it from him and you also want to know things about the players – although I think it is also important to get my own opinion about that,” said Slot.

“He gave me more than a few good tips but I think what stood out for me was that he was so happy for me and that – and I think he said this in the media as well – he would be my biggest fan from now on because he supports Liverpool in the best possible way, and you don’t see this very often. So, it says a lot about his character, the way he handled this situation as well.

“We are going to try to work on what Jurgen left behind and we will see a lot of similar things. But, of course, I bring my own things to the table as well and I think that’s also what is expected of me.

“I’ve seen many games already, I’ve seen many training sessions as well. Of course the fans can see the games, so they know we have some very good players. But I’ve also seen a lot of training sessions already and I think this is where you bring the culture, and they are always working hard – like the fans see during the game. A real good team, real good players, managed to be on top for a very long time.”

On watching the training videos, Slot added: “You want to know what the culture is, how they train and what they are used to. I think it’s always interesting if you are the successor of Jurgen Klopp and also Pepijn Lijnders, who does quite a bit of work on the training pitch, to see what their ideas were. We all try to steal a bit from each other – mostly this is done by looking at the games but if you can see the way they train, that can only help you. Let one thing be clear, the players are not going to get all the same exercises again – we will implement our own things. But it’s interesting to see what they did during the week.”

Slot – who says he has already “reached out’” to senior players like Virgil van Dijk – explained the delay in his official “unveiling” was to respect the prolonged farewell of Klopp at the end of last season.

“I think it was fair to him and to the club and to the supporters to wait a bit and then to come in,” said Slot.