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Data shows Liverpool’s ideal Jurgen Klopp replacement – and it’s not Xabi Alonso


Liverpool are on the hunt for Jurgen Klopp‘s replacement, and while Xabi Alonso is widely considered the frontrunner, the data shows someone else as a better fit.

Discussing possible Klopp replacement is yet to feel right, but it is a reality the club have had to face up to since the German told the hierarchy of his decision in November.

Ex-Red Alonso quickly emerged as the people’s choice and his exploits in Germany have only consolidated that – his Bayer Leverkusen side now hold the German record for the longest unbeaten run (33 games).

He ticks a lot of boxes, but an assessment of possible Klopp successors, by Carteret Analytics, via BBC Sport, has him ranked fifth with the use of seven different metrics.

Carteret’s analysis provide an objective sense of the strengths and weaknesses of different managers, and their findings are based on results achieved over the past six seasons, though weighted towards recent results.

Sporting's head coach from Portugal Ruben Amorim (Image: © Alexandre de Sousa/Alamy Live News)

Of course, Alonso does not have years of experience in a top job and that will work against him in the metrics, which have identified Sporting manager Ruben Amorim as an ideal candidate.

A manager’s achievements as head coach, intelligence to prepare and analyse, tactical command, attacking style of football, possession and shot creation ratio – all relative to the strength of the league they manage in – are all used to create an overall rating.

Analysis of Klopp created a rating of 151, with Amorim not far behind with 144.7 – the data makes allowances for the Sporting manager operating in a less competitive league.

The metric for the 39-year-old has him ranked higher than Klopp for strategic intelligence, tactical command rating and shot creation ratio, making him a “compelling option.”

2KA9M23 Leverkusen, Germany. 01st Nov, 2022. Soccer: Champions League, Bayer Leverkusen - FC Brugge, Group Stage, Group B, Matchday 6, BayArena. Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso looks ahead to the match. Credit: Marius Becker/dpa/Alamy Live News

Julian Nagelsmann, current Germany boss, is next on the list with a rating of 128, he ranks higher for strategic intelligence than both Klopp and Amorim.

Bayern Munich’s Thomas Tuchel (119.5) and Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou (116.5) are the final pairing to sit above Alonso (106.9), with Brighton‘s Roberto de Zerbi (71.3) rounding off the list.

The findings for Alonso deemed his team do not attack or play with as much pace as Klopp’s Reds, with his lack of experience weighing against him in this particular analysis.

Amorim is a name to keep an eye on though, he’s been name-checked throughout the successor search to date, and has experienced success with Sporting, winning their first league title in 19 years in 2020/21.

They are interesting metrics to consider as Liverpool will take a data-driven approach in their search for the next manager, just as they did when they appointed Klopp in 2015.

Liverpool’s CEO Billy Hogan confirmed as much in January: “The way we operate as a football club is to ensure that we’ve looked at all the information, all the data, we’ve done our proper due diligence and then we’ll make a decision.”

Liverpool’s Director of Research, Will Spearman, who leads the data department, will have significant influence over the club’s search and choice of head coach.