Liverpool may be forced to change long-standing strategy after Arne Slot revelation

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

Supporters were made to wait the best part of three weeks but Arne Slot was insistent that his first interview was not day one for him as Liverpool's head coach.

In his first official address as the new Reds' boss on Thursday, Slot told LFCTV's Peter McDowall that the hold up centred around a desire to ensure there was enough time for the dust to settle on what had been an emotional close to Jurgen Klopp's wildly successful time as manager.

"I think it is, because of a few reasons," he said. "First and foremost, maybe the farewell of Jurgen, which was really special from what I saw. It was on the same day I left Feyenoord as well but I did see a few things and afterwards there was even a few more farewells from what I saw, so I think it was fair to him and to the club and to the supporters to wait a bit and then to come in."

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What followed up from that line will have enthused those who might have been concerned that the radio silence that followed Slot's official confirmation on May 20 was indicative of a club resting on its laurels.

Slot added: "I think now is a good moment to arrive here and talk to you, but let's be clear: I don't start today, I've been in a lot of contact with staff members already – from people who are working here to the new staff members that are coming in – and, of course, almost every day Richard [Hughes, sporting director] and me are calling each other because we have to talk.

"This is also a very important phase for the new season, to make sure the team is ready, and we have to play in the pre-season. So, a lot of things have been done but more in the background and now I am sitting here in front of you, I think it's a good moment to do it now for the few reasons I just gave you."

The fact the head coach is regularly conversing with the sporting director bodes well, of course, but the break in tradition at Anfield might also force a change in strategy.

One of the first pointers following Slot's appointment was that he was to be the club's first-ever 'head coach' as opposed to manager, which was the job title held by his predecessor, Klopp. The idea has been drawn up by design to ease the burden of the day-to-day responsibilities on the new man at the helm.

With Klopp's power base having grown organically during a period of glittering success, the only people with more sway at the club by the time he was preparing to exit were the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group themselves. As a result, the list of duties had grown significantly.

To hear Klopp tell it, it was a mundane meeting about this summer's pre-season plans last year that was the catalyst for his eventual departure and the citing of his depleting energy reserves in his late-January press conference was undoubtedly accelerated by the increasingly wider remit he was having to oversee as Liverpool manager. Put simply, more and more issues were landing at Klopp's door, which eroded the amount of time he had to devote to more pertinent matters on the field.

The club are keen to keep such an issue from enveloping Slot over the coming weeks and months of his three-year term, theoretically freeing up the Dutchman to focus on the aspects that made him such a standout candidate to begin with. The fewer items that are passed across his desk, the better. Or so goes the general idea.

Jorg Schmadtke, the temporary sporting director, whose one-year deal was cut short at the end of January, conceded shortly after his own appointment last year that it was Klopp whose decision was final during their time together.

"I am a sports director and basically a service provider," Schmadtke said last summer. "I try to take things away from Jurgen so that he can focus on his core business. Nevertheless, it is clear that in the end he is the decision-maker. The understanding of the role is clear for everyone involved. It is about filtering things from the individual departments and then presenting Jurgen with the best possible basis for a decision. Decisions are then made on this basis."

Schmadtke also admitted earlier this year that he felt the £60m buyout clause in the contract of Dominik Szoboszlai was too high but Liverpool's decision to trigger it saw him arrive from RB Leipzig 12 months ago as the fourth most expensive player of all time on Merseyside, a decision that once more pointed towards Klopp having final say on such matters.

In the new Slot-Hughes era - and with Michael Edwards situated at the top of the club as FSG's 'CEO of football' - there is a much more collaborative approach, meaning it has never been more important for Liverpool's head coach and the sporting director to get on to the same page - and quickly.

But if there is to be a more even spread of the workload going forward then it will mean the Reds must alter a stance that has previously served them so well. Liverpool's sporting directors have rarely gone public with their views and opinions outside of the occasional Schmadtke interview to German media.

Julian Ward didn't go on the record during his time and much of Edwards's vaunted reputation has been cultivated in part due to his famously low profile when it comes to the media. The only time Edwards spoke publicly was to make it known of his intention to step down at the end of the 2021/22 campaign.

With Slot's remit being deliberately narrower than the one Klopp had during his final years on Merseyside, though, would it make sense to hear more from Hughes at certain times?

Sporting directors across English football are not heard from as much as their European counterparts but if certain decisions are taken with the input of Slot but not necessarily on his say alone, an adjustment of the procedure may be no bad thing.

The operation is changing at Liverpool and that might just mean a tweaking of how things are done too.