Excl: “Reminds Me A Lot Of…” – Coaches’ Voice On ‘Impressive’ Liverpool Managerial Candidate

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By Lewis Thompson

We’ve seen this before: A highly-rated young manager taking the Bundesliga by storm, while on the radar of most elite clubs in the world.

With an unbeaten streak of 22 games and an eight-point lead over Bayern Munich following a 3-0 thrashing, Xabi Alonso is on the verge of winning Bayer Leverkusen’s first-ever Bundesliga title.

Even if this appointment was based on pure emotions alone, Alonso, whose philosophy may differ from Jurgen Klopp’s, has already proved that he can be Liverpool’s next manager.

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“The trajectory is quite nice – Madrid’s kids to Sociedad B’s, then Bayer Leverkusen – it is a big step up to Liverpool, but it feels like a fairly consistent level of rise,” said Tony Hodson, head of content at The Coaches Voice.

“He reminds me a lot of Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta too,” Hodson added.

“These guys haven’t just stopped playing and decided to become a coach, and this is where I start to think of, dare I say, Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney.

“They feel like they’ve been coaches for ages; the way they thought about the game when they were playing set them aside from their peers then, and it sets them aside from other coaches now.”

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Hodson produced content in 2019 with Alonso who was in a coaching role at Real Madrid’s under-14s at the time.

The Spaniard was then appointed head of Real Sociedad’s B team not long after, where he won promotion to the Segunda Division for the first time since 1962, before arriving as Leverkusen’s head coach.

“Where he’s taken Leverkusen from and to in such a short period of time is unbelievably impressive,” Hodson said.

“He’s perfectly composed; he’s played for and worked with a ‘who’s who’ of the world’s greatest coaches in the last one or two generations.”

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Alonso is tactically ahead of the game, having played under some of the best managers in world football during his career, such as Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

Understanding the 42-year-old’s approach reveals a contrast to Klopp’s style. Liverpool won’t be able to appoint a ‘new Klopp’ because that is quite frankly impossible.

Instead, they must seek a new manager who possesses a unique vision and philosophy, and what is wrong with that?



In May 2008, Klopp took over a Borussia Dortmund side who had finished 13th the previous campaign and were ultimately in a financial hole.

Rejecting interest from Bayern Munich to steer the ship at Signal Iduna Park was a brave decision from the then 41-year-old, but not one he ever came to regret.

Under Klopp’s guidance, Dortmund won back-to-back Bundesliga titles between 2010 and 2012 and made it to the Champions League final in 2013, all the while capturing the hearts of the Black and Yellow fanbase.

Alonso faced a similar uphill battle when he was appointed manager of a debilitated Leverkusen side in October 2022, as they were second bottom of the Bundesliga after eight games.

That season, a sixth-placed finish and Europa League qualification cemented Alonso’s position at the helm of Leverkusen for the foreseeable future.


This season, Alonso is scoring more goals and earning more points per game, compared to both of Klopp’s title-winning seasons at Dortmund.

The Spaniard wants his side to play short, snappy passes straight down the middle of the pitch while utilising the experienced Granit Xhaka and youngsters like Florian Wirtz.

Oscar O’Mara is a German football expert, who regularly covers Union Berlin for Get German Football News.

“Alonso isn’t a flash in the pan, he is already one of the best coaches in the world and will only get better,” O’Mara said.

“They can play 3-4-3, 3-4-2-1, 4-2-3-1, it’s a new spin on modern football where coaching styles have to be flexible to the player’s skills and the weaknesses of the opposition.”

Leverkusen have completed the most passes in the Bundesliga this season and have the highest number of short passes (between 5-15 yards) too.

When you compare these figures to the Reds, you start to get a feel of how Alonso sets his team up to play every week.

Due to Klopp’s preference for long balls at times, Liverpool are the opposite with fewer short passes in the Premier League this season, behind the likes of Brighton, Chelsea, Man City and Spurs.

Close to 60% of Leverkusen’s passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this season have been short, meanwhile, Liverpool’s percentage sits at just over 46%.

“Most superlatives have already been used to describe Alonso and Leverkusen this season,” added O’Mara.

“They’re dispatching sides across Europe and Germany at will, playing with freedom in attack and discipline at the back.

“It’s extraordinary that they have conceded just 15 goals in 22 league games so far, which speaks to Alonso’s meticulous planning and ability to build a squad and staff group that is adaptable to their opposition.”

To put that into comparison, Man City (26), Liverpool (24) and Arsenal (22) have all conceded more.

In possession, the Reds are known for being comfortable with playing the ball out from the back.

We have seen so many times this season the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk ping deadly diagonals out of the back four in switches of play.

At Leverkusen, Alonso doesn’t believe in those long passes, with four of his side’s players in the top 10 for the most individual passes in the Bundesliga this season.

Xhaka in particular has played over 500 passes more than Stuttgart’s Waldemar Anton, who is second place on the list.

Alonso doesn’t encourage as many switches or high balls to the wings as Liverpool do when they go finding the likes of Mo Salah and Luis Diaz out wide.

Only West Ham (103) have completed more switches than Liverpool (98) in the Premier League this season, while Leverkusen’s number sits at 58 in the Bundesliga.

When Klopp announced he would leave Liverpool at the end of the season, he said that he was running out of energy.

An understandable statement considering the rebuild that he and the club had to undergo after the Reds missed out on Champions League qualification last season.

Implementing Alonso’s style at Liverpool will not be easy, but when you have the likes of Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliot, Alexis Mac Allister and Domink Szoboszlai at your disposal, it is easy to see how it can work.

FSG must not appoint the next Liverpool manager with the expectation of emulating Klopp, but rather in the hope of introducing a new era that will prompt further triumph.

It is likely that Alonso will win the Bundesliga this season, bringing the trophy to Leverkusen for the first time.

He is part of a new generation of managers and there is no reason why he couldn’t continue, or even elevate Liverpool’s success…


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