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Monday, July 15, 2024

IAN LADYMAN: Klopp’s legacy hangs around Slot’s neck like a weight

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In an official club interview to mark his arrival as new Liverpool manager, Arne Slot must have referenced Jurgen Klopp more than 20 times. And so one of the most difficult transformations from one manager to another in recent English football history begins.Slot, lured from Feyenoord to replace Klopp after the German’s long tenure, is right to be respectful of his predecessor. How can he not be? Klopp was not only successful at Anfield but took his leave as gracefully and tactfully as possible.Still, the hard yards for Slot stand before him and inevitably the first few of those will be taken beneath the lengthy shadow of the man who went before. It’s hard to think of a more difficult task in the Premier League since David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2013.Unai Emery was the first in to the position vacated by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. But Wenger’s stardust had turned to sand long before he stepped away several years too late. At Chelsea in 2007, it cannot have been easy for Avram Grant to replace Jose Mourinho.Arne Slot (left) has an almighty job trying to follow in Jurgen Klopp’s (right) footsteps at Anfield Klopp’s years at Liverpool were transformative in terms of what he won – every single trophy available to him bar the Europa League – but also how the club and its fans viewed themselves But just as Moyes was faced with the prospect of replacing a manager who had not just won trophies but transformed the feel and image of a great institution from the bottom to the top, so Slot now sits in the chair of a man who rebuilt a football club in his own image.Those who like to sneer say too much fuss is made of Klopp and what he did at Liverpool. They say that one league title was a modest return on all those years of trying. They like to laugh at two assaults on a quadruple – in 2022 and 2024 – ended up with just domestic cups to put in the cabinet.But that’s rubbish, of course. Klopp’s years at Liverpool were transformative in terms of what he won – every single trophy available to him bar the Europa League – but also in terms of how Liverpool and its fanbase viewed themselves.And now, somehow, Slot has to take all that and move it forwards. From one perspective, it’s maybe as well that Klopp’s title challenge fell flat last season. At least it is possible in theory for Slot to improve on a third-placed finish.Indeed he spoke of that when he chatted to Liverpool’s TV channel for his introductory interview this week. Looking tanned after what he said had been a rejuvenating holiday, he said his initial aim was to beat the Liverpool total of 82 league points from last season. It’s hard to think of a more difficult task in the Premier League since David Moyes (pictured) replaced Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2013In amongst all of that, he was asked whether he had spoken to Klopp (he has) and whether he thought there were any similarities between the two men (a few). He joked about early Saturday kick-offs so disliked by Klopp (Liverpool start next season at Ipswich at 12.30pm on the opening Saturday) and suggested he was looking forward to working on and building on all that Klopp had left behind.Deep down, Slot will know the truth of it and that is that until he wins a trophy or shows that he can field a team as thrilling as those sent out to play by his predecessor, Klopp’s legacy, image and sheer name will hang round his neck like a weight.Klopp has left Merseyside for Mallorca but at the same time has not left. He was back at Anfield just last week to watch a Taylor Swift concert and has said he will back for a game. In all likelihood, Klopp will leave that one for a while. He’s an emotionally intelligent bloke and knows full well all the fuss and hoopla that will come with that visit.Equally, it will take a while for Liverpool and their supporters – and maybe even some of its playing squad – to fully let go of a man who gave them so much.After his final home game of the 2012-13 title winning season, Ferguson stood on the field at Old Trafford and urged the home supporters to throw their support behind his replacement. He meant it, too. Moyes had been hand picked by Ferguson, after all. Slot will know that Klopp’s legacy, image and sheer name will hang round his neck like a weight It will take a while for Liverpool and their supporters – and maybe even some of their playing squad – to fully let go of a man who gave them so muchThat it didn’t work out was down to many interlocking factors. What was soon clear was that Moyes didn’t quite have the personality to impose himself on the club and indeed its players. Will Slot rise to that challenge at Anfield? It will be one of the first and most important hurdles that stand before him.He was right to talk so kindly of Klopp this week but the sooner the questions about the man who went before him stop the better. Only results in August and September will see to that.Potter’s waiting gameLeicester City have made a fine appointment in Steve Cooper. The former Nottingham Forest manager is a smart coach who improves players.I still think the same of Graham Potter, however, and note that he was also in the running for that post in the Midlands.It’s almost 15 months since Potter was cruelly sacked by Chelsea. At some point he is going to have to say yes to something.Football’s lost a gentleman in Kevin CampbellI briefly knew Kevin Campbell when he was a centre forward at Nottingham Forest and I was a reporter for the local paper.Kev and I used to go through the same ritual every day. I would stand in the car park of the City Ground and ask if he would talk to me for an interview. Every time he would say no but always with the same unbreakable politeness.He didn’t do media stuff back then after a difficult experience at Arsenal but Kev never forgot his manners or forgot how to smile and that remained the case up until he was taken from us last week at age of 54. Football has lost another good ‘un following Kevin Campbell’s passing at the age of 54The last time I saw him was at Goodison Park towards the end of last season. Nothing had changed. Still the smile and the polite enquiry: ‘Hi Ian, How are you?’.And that was Kev. He gave a stuff about people. He cared. He knew how to behave. Football has lost another good ‘un.Better late than never for VARIt took 53 seconds for VAR’s semi-automated offside system to rule out Diogo Jota’s headed goal for Portugal against Czechia. This is the system the Premier League clubs have voted to use next season after previously saying no to it. What took you so long, guys?Lessons to learn for next edition of the EurosA friend of mine is due in Berlin next weekend to spend a few days watching Euro 2024. He has a ticket for the last-16 game in Gelsenkirchen which may well feature England and I have advised him not to bother.The train journey from east to west is a long one. In all likelihood the train will be cancelled and if it’s not it is highly unlikely to run on time.The Veltins Arena is in the middle of nowhere and poorly served by public transport. After England’s opening game against Serbia, supporters waited for hours to get back to the city. Some walked. Others paid taxi fees of £150 for a 20-minute ride. Quizzed about this the next day, the local authorities said it was ‘normal’ for a big game. Travel has been a major issue during the Euros with fans struggling to get to and from gamesWell if this is normal it baffles me why anybody would wish to be part of it. So I have advised my friend to find a nice bar in Berlin and sit down and watch the game on TV.The next Euros are in the UK in four years. We have a great opportunity to do it better. Subsidised travel, reasonable hotel rates, policies and infrastructures that treat supporters as a priority and not an after-thought.So there we go. The challenge is set. We will wait and we will watch for evidence that lessons have been learned.

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