Slotting in: welcome to Liverpool, Arne!

Written on 8 June 2024, 08:22pm

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Since 1st of June 2024, Arne Slot is the new head coach of Liverpool. He follows Jurgen Klopp, who won all the possible trophies with Liverpool in the last eight years. Unlike Klopp in 2016 (who won the Bundesliga twice and played a Champions League final), the dutchman comes with a relatively modest background, winning the Dutch league and playing the inaugural Conference League final. Stepping into big shoes is an understatement.

Here’s what Ted Lasso had to say about it:

Well, folks, I reckon Liverpool just hit the jackpot! Slot’s joining the club and it’s like finding the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle under the couch cushions – just the perfect fit. He’s gonna slide right into place, bringing that fresh energy and a whole lot of heart. Now, I know what you’re thinking – what’s in a name, right? But let me tell you, this guy’s a perfect fit, like peanut butter and jelly or a well-worn pair of boots. Coach Slot’s got a knack for finding just the right place for everyone, and I mean everyone. We’re talking about a new era here, so roll out the welcome mat, break out the biscuits, and get ready to see some real magic on the field. We’re in for a heck of a ride with Slot at the helm, folks! 

Ted Lasso, interviewed by ChatGPT

Slot inherits a structure and a squad that, like the Artificial Intelligence nowadays, has a huge potential, plenty of opportunities but also comes with considerable risks.

Let’s take these one by one.


The structure around the first team is now radically different. Michael Edwards is back, and so is Julian Ward. Slot will certainly be involved in recruitment, but the decision-making process will now also involve Edwards, Ward and the newly recruited sporting director Richard Hughes.
The squad also looks much improved compared to what Klopp inherited back in 2016. It is now full of young talent – Trent, Quansah, Kelleher, Elliott, Bradley, Gravenberch to name a few, with others like Carvalho or Morton coming back from loans. There are established leaders – Alisson, Virgil or Salah – and others who clearly have the potential to become world-class players: MacAllister, Szoboszlai or Diaz. In particular, there is a lot of excitment at the prospect of MacAllister playing in a more advanced role and Nuñez finding his rhythm.
The Kirkby training center was recently modernized, the stadium was also upgraded to over 61.000 places and Anfield remains one of the most difficult places to play for all the teams.


With all this structure in place, there is a clear opportunity for Slot’s Liverpool to match, if not exceed Klopp’s performance. Surely he will be given time, and he also has the advantage that he’s not been given the job to improve on perfection: what he’s inherited is not Liverpool’s team from 2019-2020, but one making slow starts, lacking composure in the final third and having difficulties closing out the games. So there’s clearly plenty of work ahead, but Slot will have the new leadership structure in place to help him sorting it out.
There are also plenty of opportunities when it comes to developing youngsters. Liverpool’s academy is full of talent waiting to be polished, and Slot might find the next Trent, Gerrard or Owen right in the back yard.
From a financial perspective, the club is currently on a very solid foundation. Unlike other clubs, Liverpool is not forced to sell anybody and is no danger of breaching the PL’s profit and sustainability rules (with only £6M loss over the last three seasons, well below the £105M limit). This means there is an opportunity to strengthen the squad and build for the future.


Slot inherits of course also plenty of risks. As the last 4-5 seasons showed, the risk of injuries is constantly looming over Liverpool’s squad. Whether this was down to the intensity and demands of Klopp’s training, the quality of the medical department or simply bad luck – we will probably never know. But Slot will have a fresh start, and perhaps, together with the new medical department, he will find a way to improve the players availability.
There are also three important contracts that Slot needs to sort out: Trent, Virgil and Salah. Granted, this is more of a job for Edwards and Ward, but this will require coordinated input from all the leadership roles, including Slot. Trent and Virgil, in particular, are players that Liverpool simply cannot afford to lose.
Slot will also need to find a way to improve Nuñez, who will be desperate to prove that he still has a place in the Liverpool starting XI. There might be players looking for a new challenge, such as Kelleher or Diaz – and Slot will have to deal with that too in his first weeks at the club.
One of the key risks in recent seasons was Liverpool constantly leaving themselves short in key departments. Not reacting to the defensive injury crisis in January 2021 or failing to address the glaring midfield issues back in the summer of 2022 were some of the most inexplicable mistakes. Hopefully Slot (together with Edwards & co) will find a way to address that too, with a new center back and defensive midfielder being the absolute minimum required this summer.
Game management was also one of the weak points in the last few seasons under Klopp. Slow starts and inability to get over the line – in particular against the Top 6 teams – were one of the reasons for the disappointing end of last season. Slot will have to improve this record sooner rather than later.
The supporters are one of the club key assets. I have no doubts that they will be 100% behind Arne, but the club will have to improve their communication with the supporter groups. As we saw just a few months ago, a badly managed situation – when the club announced the intention to increase the prices by 2% – created a toxic atmosphere in the stadium before the quarter final against Atalanta. More recently, the club’s intention to play home games away from Anfield shows a certain disconnection between the club and supporters, and causes an unwanted distraction for Slot.


As I said, there won’t be many expectations for Slot in his first season. Personally I would be happy seing the start of some good football, keeping the players healthy and avoiding the mistakes of the past.

In short, make us hope.

Can Liverpool do it?

Written on 29 December 2023, 03:26pm

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Here is how the PL table looks like after the first half of the 2023/24 season:

On paper, Liverpool has a slightly easier second half of the season, with more games at home than away (10 vs 9) and all the newly promoted sides yet to play at Anfield. Here is the full list of 19 games, sorted by degree of difficulty:

10 home games:

  • 5 quite winnable: the 3 newly promoted, Palace, Wolves
  • 2 difficult, but winnable: Newcastle, Chelsea
  • 2 difficult: Brighton, Spurs
  • 1 very difficult: City

9 away games:

  • 2 difficult: Arsenal, Villa
  • 2 traditionally tricky: United, Everton
  • 3 London trips: Fulham, West Ham, Brentford
  • 2 against teams with low expectations, but potentially banana peels: Bournemouth, Nottingham

Below I will look into the prediction and the schedule, but first, a few assumptions:

  1. Liverpool will not be involved in the January transfer market (in or out). A safe assumption looking at the recent years, and also confirmed by a few trustable journalists. There is a chance that Fabio Carvalho might come back from his Leipzig loan, albeit he might be moved on to another team, perhaps in the PL.
  2. Injuries: while Matip, Tsimikas and Bajcetic are likely out for the season, I think it’s safe to assume that MacAllister will be back from his injury in early January, while Robertson and Thiago will become available later in February. Also, I will assume that no other long term injuries will occur. As we all know, they quite be quite damaging in Liverpool’s case, especially for the key players (Alisson, Virgil, Trent, Mo).
  3. I will also assume that Liverpool are out of the FA Cup on 7th of January. I think it’s a reasonable assumption given the difficulty of the fixture (playing Arsenal away) and the fact that Liverpool is more likely to focus on the EFL semifinal against Fulham in a period where they will be without their main goalscorer, any of their left full backs and the only experienced number 6.

What are the odds?
At this point in time, Opta (British sports analytics company) give City as favourites to win the title (55%), then Liverpool (27%) and Arsenal (15%).
Betting companies give the following odds: 1.8 to City, 3.5 to Liverpool, 5 to Arsenal (how to read this: bet 10 EUR on City, win 18; bet 10 EUR on Liverpool, win 35).

I also think there will be a three way race, but I think it will be quite a tight one, with all the 3 teams finishing above the 80 points mark. Unlike the betting and analytics companies, I believe Arsenal are the favourites to win it this year. They have a very good team which only improved after finishing last season with 84 points, they are more experienced and have their fixtures nicely spread out in the second half of the season. They do play 10 out of 19 games away and have a few difficult away fixtures (City, United, Tottenham), but I believe that they can finish close to 90 points. The recent loss against West Ham was a freak occurrence: from the chances they created it was more likely to score 5 than 0 goals. It will probably not happen again this season.

I expect City to improve on their 40 points half-season, as they usually do (I expect them to win their game in hand vs Brentford). But not by a large margin, for a number of reasons: the number of games they played so far and are still likely to play (would not be surprised if they reached the CL final again), the number of injuries (albeit they do have the squad depth to cope with it) and the fact that they look more fragile than last season (so far they lost 8 points from winning positions). They play more games at home than away and I expect them to finish the season with 85+ points.

What about Liverpool?
On the short term, they will be without Mo and Endo for about a month, they will need to cope without an established left full back for another 2 months and they have double legged EFL semifinal (and a potential Wembley final against Chelsea) to handle.
However, they will also restart their European season later, on 7 March, compared to City – 13 February and Arsenal 20 February.
If they keep the same pace, Liverpool will finish with 84 points, but as we seen above, I doubt that it will be enough.
I think it will all depend on the crunch period at the end of April – beginning of May.
I expect Liverpool to reach the EL quarter finals (hopefully without injuries), which means that in the second half of April they will play the 2nd leg of their EL QF and two tricky fixtures in London: Fulham (20) and West Ham (27). The second one will be interesting, with the Hammers potentially chasing an European spot (5th place might bring them CL). On the other hand, this might favour Liverpool, who had would rather play an open, basketball-like game rather than a cagey, all-the-men-behind-the-ball one.

Then, come May, Liverpool might have a tricky decisions to make: prioritize the EL semi-finals (2 and 9 May) or put everything into the Spurs (H) and Villa (A) games (4 and 11 May)? If they still have a chance at the title, I expect the latter. I don’t expect Liverpool to be successful on both fronts. But I think Klopp and his senior players (Alisson, Virgil, Robertson, Trent, Mo, Gomez) deserve more than one PL title and they only need a bit of luck to win it. And of course, they could do without perfectly valid goals being ruled out by distracted referees.

In conclusion, I expect Arsenal to finish with close to 90 points, City 85+, and Liverpool at least 84. Their chances to overtake City and Arsenal will depend on a lot of factors, including the European competitions for all the 3 teams, injuries, fatigue or simply luck. Either way, I think it will be an exciting second half of the season and a memorable title race.

A few things that I liked in 2022

Written on 29 December 2022, 11:44am

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The #yearly_roundup of things that I enjoyed this year.

  1. Getting over the Covid period. It felt good to be able to travel, socialize and play sports again. With the added value that the working-from-home routine continued.
  2. Reading. A bit less compared to the last year (according to Goodreads). I particularly enjoyed the “Three body problem” trilogy, which made my imagination run like never before. “In the future people will take neuro drugs that will selectively erase memories of this trilogy in order to be able to read them again for the first time.#
  3. Sticking to a healthy routine. More active compared to 2021. Smashed the 1000 days record for closing the Apple Health rings, kept doing 10.000 steps every day during the same period and played football 2-3 times every week. That’s a lot of dopamines 🙂
  4. Driving my Tesla. Almost 5 years in, and it doesn’t get old.
  5. Refereeing football games. I still regret not starting this earlier.
  6. The wallpapers on my phone. I know, quite silly 😋 but we need to look for thin slices of joy. The iOS 16 lock screen improvements made me look for colors and emotions and in the process, increased my appreciation for the digital artists.
  7. A few card games. Hearts and Spades from the Apple Arcade gave my mind some time off while bringing back some teenage memories.
  8. Learning a new foreign language. I’m nowhere near speaking Spanish, but I am quite happy with the progress I made this year in learning new words and understanding the language.
  9. A series: For all mankind. Because the third season is just as good as the previous two. And because it accentuates the impression that we’re leaving a new golden age for the space exploration (perhaps soon to be powered by fusion?).
  10. Attending the first concert with my daughter. Not planned, but it turned out to be awesome.