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FSG will feel smug after madness descends on Liverpool's rivals

-Credit: (Image: Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)


Those in the positions of power at Liverpool might be forgiven for feeling a little smug while the madness has started to unfold around them this week.

Having officially confirmed Arne Slot on a three-year deal on Monday - less than 24 hours hours after Jurgen Klopp had led the chorus on the Kop for his replacement - the likes of FSG chief Michael Edwards, sporting director Richard Hughes and director of research Will Spearman will have no doubt been delighted that their ducks were already in a row ahead of what is now the beginning of a continent-wide dash for managerial appointments.

First up, it was the shock news that Mauricio Pochettino would be leaving Chelsea by mutual consent. Having secured European football with a top-six finish after a desperately poor first half of the term, the former Tottenham manager might well have felt his reputation would be better served away from the chaos that has characterised the Todd Boehly era at Stamford Bridge.

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Chelsea's search for a successor, just 11 months after Pochettino's arrival, was already being reported in the media before fans had even got to the end of a particularly succinct note of lukewarm appreciation from the club to their departing boss.

Kieran McKenna, the former Manchester United coach who has brought Premier League football back to Ipswich Town, is the early front runner ahead of Roberto De Zerbi, whose own tempestuous time with Brighton & Hove Albion came to an end last week.

Over in Germany, Bayern Munich's faintly embarrassing third-place finish in the Bundesliga has seen them step up their efforts to find someone to follow on from Thomas Tuchel, with Burnley's Vincent Kompany the shock favourite.

Failing upwards might be the phrase that comes to mind considering the Belgian never looked like he would keep the Clarets in the Premier League but that left-field appointment of such a rookie manager, to one of the genuine superpowers of the game no less, is maybe an indicator of the dearth of elite talent on the managerial market this summer. The ongoing confusion surrounding Xavi's future at Barcelona suggests the La Liga giants will also be looking for a new boss, with former Bayern boss Hansi Flick reportedly in line.

The fact that Chelsea are also exploring the merits of someone from the Championship also furthers that viewpoint, even if there is also a credible argument that coaches are now being assessed in the same way players are: based on what they can potentially do rather than what they previously have.

On the face of it, that theory makes sense. If Liverpool believed a 22-year-old Dominik Szoboszlai was worth £60m for their midfield rebuild last summer, for example, why isn't a 45-year-old Eredivisie-winning coach in Slot worth assessing closer for the role in the dugout?

That represents a shift in thinking for big clubs this summer and Liverpool's decision to move for Slot from Feyenoord was based on the idea that his playing style, values and coaching philosophy most closely mirrored that of Klopp's.

The vaunted German implemented his high-pressing, hard-running style for close to a decade and his exit was generally an unexpected one when it was announced in late January. So essentially, the Reds' squad has been built at considerable cost to dovetail with the tactics and strategies preferred by Klopp. It made little sense, then, employing a replacement whose style was hugely different. To do that would mean a raft of new, expensive players who would need recruiting for.

The trend within the game of managers becoming more hands-on as coaches while sporting directors handle duties around players negotiations, contract talks and building relationships with agents is now widespread. And while Klopp's list of responsibilities grew organically the more beloved he became within the club's fanbase, the appointment of Slot sees him take on the official job title of 'head coach' to reflect the change in attitudes towards what is now demanded of the modern-day 'manager'.

Meanwhile, the future of Manchester United's Erik ten Hag rages on the eve of their second successive FA Cup final with local rivals City. Few have given the Red Devils a prayer at Wembley given their horrendous Premier League campaign and the fact they are up against a side who are coming off their fourth straight title and on course for a historic back-to-back domestic double.

England boss Gareth Southgate is one of the names linked alongside Tuchel and Pochettino and the speculation, that has already reached fever pitch, will be ramped up considerably if Ten Hag is on the losing side in the capital on Saturday.

With Xabi Alonso giving it at least another season with Bayer Leverkusen, a side who he has made Bundesliga Invincibles and Europa League runners-up, there are seemingly fewer and fewer outstanding candidates for so many top jobs that could be available this summer.

And whether you feel there is a genuine shift in attitudes from big clubs now willing giving coaches with potential a chance, or you are of the opinion that those on the search are having to sift through a crowded, less-than-impressive field, the Reds' aforementioned smugness will come from their belief that they have the right man in Slot, early.

Get caught up in such a frantic chase to find a new manager leaves clubs at mercy of short-sighted, panicked decisions that could set them back years. Liverpool will feel they have done their homework to avoid such a stumble as the post-Klopp era now begins.