Roberto De Zerbi theory suggests he cost himself Liverpool job before Arne Slot call

Roberto De Zerbi, Manager of Brighton and Hove Albion, looks on prior to the Premier League match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa at American Express Community Stadium on May 05, 2024 in Brighton, England.
Roberto De Zerbi was mooted as a contender for the Liverpool job. -Credit:Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Liverpool knew even before kicking off against Spurs that it would end the Premier League season no lower than third. Aston Villa's loss to Brighton confirmed the Reds could not be caught.

With Manchester City and Arsenal all but out of sight in the top two spots, the competitive stakes in Jürgen Klopp's farewell have rather fizzled out. But Liverpool will want to leave things on as high a note as possible before looking ahead to a new era.

That new era looks set to be let by Arne Slot. Liverpool is yet to confirm the appointment of the Dutchman, but appears to have chosen the Feyenoord boss as Klopp's successor.

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That decision comes amid some fierce competition. Liverpool didn't quite have its pick of managers, with Xabi Alonso deciding to stay at Bayer Leverkusen, but any number of promising young coaches would have jumped at the Anfield chance. One mooted candidate was Roberto De Zerbi.

The Italian earned a glittering reputation with Brighton last season, leading the Seagulls into Europe. He has earned high praise from the likes of Pep Guardiola and Klopp himself.

But Jamie Redknapp has theorized that De Zerbi might have cost himself the Liverpool job with his performances this year. Brighton lost a lot of important players — not least Alexis Mac Allister — and look as though they will miss out on the European slots this time around.

"This time last year he would have got the Liverpool job," said Redknapp on Sky Sports ahead of Brighton's win over Aston Villa. He suggested that Brighton's dip has harmed De Zerbi's reputation.

"It shouldn't but that is how football is. Timing is everything. I'm a massive fan of the way they play, and when they have their best team out they can play anyone in this division." says: Liverpool won't have been unduly swayed by short-term trends. When it first appointed Klopp, it did so after an underwhelming final season with Borussia Dortmund, and in fact the manager was impressed by how the data team attributed much of that to bad luck.

Equally, Liverpool will be looking for overperformance relative to resources, and Brighton finishing around mid-table is still a decent effort. De Zerbi might have skewed popular expectations when he did so well in his debut campaign, but the recruitment process won't have judged him too harshly for regressing a little after losing key players.

All in all, he may well have been a viable candidate. But it's clear Liverpool prefers what it sees from Slot.