I was at Arne Slot's first press conference and have already noticed one major change

-Credit: (Image: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

It felt very much like the first day of term Friday morning as the media reconvened at the AXA Training Centre to hear from the new Liverpool regime.

Just seven weeks had passed since Jurgen Klopp bid farewell to those who covered his pre-match press conferences every week at both the club's £50m Kirkby base and the years that had preceded them at the iconic Melwood, but Slot was front and centre as the new man in charge.

In an interesting deviation from the usual script, Slot, whose job title is officially 'head coach', was flanked by the club's new sporting director, Richard Hughes, as journalists and fans got to hear from someone in the position that has previously been shrouded in mystery over the years.

READ MORE: Arne Slot explains what has to happen first at Liverpool before transfers are made

READ MORE: Arne Slot expects two more Liverpool arrivals this summer

Michael Edwards, who Hughes described as "the best British sporting director" saw his own vaunted reputation grow to mythical status among the club's fans due to a lack of dealings with the media, while his replacement, Julian Ward, was cut from the same cloth having prepared for the role as Edwards's assistant.

So the decision to put Hughes up alongside Slot was a message that this is now more of a collaborative approach at Liverpool than it has been for some time and the head coach won't quite yet enjoy the same level of power as his predecessor, who was able to enjoy - or endure - such autonomy due to a wildly successful reign that brought about Premier League and Champions League glory.

Liverpool are keen to ensure Slot is not made to lift the same workload as Klopp, who cited draining energy levels as a reason for his end-of-season departure back in January, and there are a number of areas on interest that the current incumbent would perhaps not be as well placed to offer insight to in the same way Hughes would be able to.

The situation of contracts being one of them, with Hughes inevitably asked about where Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold stood at this moment in time, with less than a year to go on all of their respective terms.

“The only concerns we have [players with one-year deals] is total commitment from the players to the cause; we are absolutely convinced that is the case," said Hughes after stating it would be inappropriate to discuss the finer details before the players themselves have yet to meet the new-look team.

Asked how much business he felt needed to be done, Slot himself refused to put a number on it with Liverpool taking something of an opportunistic approach to potential deals this summer.

"Not in specific numbers," Slot said when asked about incomings. "For me it is clear we have inherited a good team. There have been a few changes last season already and the way I look at football I can see during the Euros how important it is to work with players on a daily basis for a longer time.

"In my opinion you see many real good players not all of them have the same level at the clubs, so that proves my point how important it is to work on a daily basis with your players and get the best out of them. That is something we are going to do.

"There is already a really good team, there were a few new signings last season so the longer a team plays together if there is a good head coach normally you will see things will improve. That is fortunate I am going to a club where normally not many transfers go out."

Slot spoke of his hope that Hughes would be able to retain Liverpool's key men, saying: "Here I am expecting him to keep most of our players and I think he wants that himself and from there we can only build." The Dutchman also outlined the feeling his early-June chat with Reds captain Van Dijk was positive. "Did I feel Virgil's hunger to stay? I did."

Aside from the assembled media from both national and local levels, Slot was also joined in the press room by his new-look backroom staff of Ruben Peeters and Sipke Hulshoff, whose roles as performance coach and assistant manager, respectively, are still in their infancy.

They will soon be joined by Fabian Otte as the club's new head of goalkeeping after a short holiday following USA's exit from the Copa America, while Slot also revealed there will be two further appointments made in due course to the backroom team. For Peeters and Hulshoff, it was no doubt an eye-opener as to how much interest and attention their new club garners from the media.

Interestingly, Slot's agent, Rafaela Pimenta, was also on hand to witness the press conference unfold. The Brazilian lawyer, who also looks after the interests of Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and Bayern Munich defender Matthijs De Ligt, among others, sat on from the side as her client spoke with confidence about his biggest role to date.

Perhaps a key takeaway was Slot's insistence that he was appointed based on his style of football. The former Feyenoord coach made reference to that fact a number of times, saying: "I don't want to take words out of Richard's mouth but I think one of the reasons why he came to me was that our playing style is not so much different."

With a squad that was built to last to the end of Klopp's initial 2026 contract at Anfield before his bombshell announcement to club owners Fenway Sports Group in November of last year, appointing a coach with wildly different views on how the game should be played would have been counterproductive.

The Liverpool squad has been built at great expense in recent years to be successful under a specific style of football, so Slot - as Hughes pointed out - simply had to tick a number of boxes to even be considered.

"That philosophy, that playing style that attracted us to Arne is based on subjective footballing opinion and data as well, as you'd expect," Hughes said. "In all the metrics, Arne's Feyenoord team came out really well.

"The way they played with real front-foot, attacking football, played with intelligence, played with passion, and I think those are all attributes that we would welcome here at Liverpool. I think they lend really well with the current squad that we have, our supporters and the football club as a whole."

The head coach himself has not won a competition, either. Slot may feel as though he is a lucky man to be in charge of a club the size of Liverpool but his rise has been rapid due to the success he has been able to enjoy as a forward-thinking coach.

His admission that he previously turned down offers from the Premier League - reported to be Tottenham and Leeds United - was based on a belief in his own ability that, at some stage, his work would catch the eye of clubs where success is not only desired but demanded.

That, as Slot will find out soon enough, is very much the case at Liverpool FC. The new era has truly begun.