Premier League • England

Klopp successor: James Pearce names shock name Liverpool chiefs ‘really admire’; former star advises on ‘calm’ option

Brentford manager Thomas Frank and Xabi Alonso of Bayer Leverkusen are both candidates to replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool boss

Thomas Frank and Xabi Alonso are both candidates to replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool boss

Liverpool owners FSG could yet launch a surprise move for a current Premier League manager as a successor to Jurgen Klopp if a move for favourite Xabi Alonso fails to get over the line.

Klopp stunned the footballing world on Friday by announcing his intentions to step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season. After what will be close to nine years in the Anfield dug-out, the German will be remembered as one of the greatest managers the Reds ever had.

Indeed, having led the Merseysiders to four European finals, as well as ending their 30-year wait to become champions of England, Klopp’s place in the history books is assured. However, finding his successor has quickly become a hot topic of debate for those around not just Liverpool, but also in wider footballing circles.

Quite who the Reds go for remains open to debate, though this article very quickly reflected on five top managerial candidates for Liverpool soon after Klopp had gone public with his bombshell announcement.

FSG, for their part, intend to do their due dilligence on their next manager very much in public, not least so they don’t distract from Klopp’s final year at the helm – and potentially, his most successful one yet.

As it stands, Liverpool are top of the Premier League table by five points going into the midweek fixtures list, while they are also through to the Carabao Cup final, where familiar final foes Chelsea lie in wait.

The Reds are also through to the FA Cup fifth round, where they will take on either Watford or Southampton at Anfield for a place in the quarter-finals.


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Liverpool are huge admirers of Brentford boss Thomas Frank

And with the Europa League final due to hosted in Dublin on Wednesday May 22, Ireland may yet prove an ideal setting for what may prove Klopp’s goodbye gift to the Reds.

There’s plenty of football to be played before then, however, though Klopp will understandably not want too much distractions over whom could come in as his successor.

In the meantime, the name of Alonso continues to be strongly pushed with his exploits at Bayer Leverkusen seemingly underlining the Spaniard as the ideal replacement.

Understandably, FSG are keeping their options open at this stage on the chance that Alonso feels the job has come too soon in his relatively-fledgling managerial career.

With that in mind, respected journalist James Pearce has provided a run-down on the list of candidates FSG are considering.

And speaking on The Athletic’s podcast, Pearce claims Liverpool also like Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi, while they are also considering Brentford boss Thomas Frank as a contender with the Dane having won many admirers at Anfield.

“This is down to FSG and the direction they want to go,” Pearce stated. “De Zerbi has to be part of the conversation, [Ange] Postecoglou has been mentioned but it’s very early in his reign at Tottenham and someone mentioned to me how much they admire Thomas Frank’s work at Brentford on a limited budget,” Pearce said.

Former star advises Xabi Alonso for Liverpool

Having led the Bees into the Premier League, Frank has established the unfashionable London side among the English elite, leading them to 13th and ninth-placed finishes so far. This time around they are sat in 14th and do not appear in any immediate threat of the drop.

For that reason alone, it’s easy to see why he’s a man that bigger clubs are starting to pay attention too and it may be that, one day soon, he is in receipt of an offer that proves too good to turn down.

Whether that arrives from Liverpool, though, remains to be seen and it would nonetheless be seen as something of a risk by the Reds hierarchy were they to go down that route.

Alternatively, former Reds star Danny Murphy has strongly talked up the merits of appointing Alonso as Klopp’s successor.

Murphy said on talkSPORT: “The reason I’ve said Alonso all along, really, is, obviously he gets the fans and the club, and that’s a start.

“He plays good football – Leverkusen play good football. Yeah, it’s a different style, three at the back and a bit more possession-based, but it’s quite dynamic and he can be more dynamic with better players.

“He’s got wonderful appeal, I would imagine, to signing players. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play for someone like Alonso – charismatic, he’s different than Klopp in terms of he’s a bit more calmer, he seems that way anyway. That might evolve as time goes by and the pressure builds.

“He’s worked under [Pep] Guardiola, he’s worked under [Carlo] Ancelotti, he’s worked under some unbelievable managers. And, he’s a good coach apparently. He’s a coach, now other people don’t necessarily do the coaching.”

‘Ticks lots of boxes for Liverpool’

Murphy feels any successor to Klopp, however, will have their work cut out trying to replicate the German’s success.

However, in appointing Alonso, he believes it would give Liverpool their best possible chance.

“So, there’s a lot of boxes ticked, but there’s no candidate anybody’s giving me or talking about to me that you would say you could go in there and be 100% confident or even 90% confident that they’re going to be able to stay at that level and keep Liverpool at that level because of what Klopp has done.”

Alonso has a 63% win ratio at Leverkusen since taking charge in October 2022 and has the club top of the Bundesliga table, where they are looking to win the first title in their history.

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