Grading Managerial Moves Ahead of the 2024/25 Season: Part 1

Ahead of the 2024/25 club football season, many teams have undergone changes in management. Here is a look at best managerial moves of the summer so far.

Liverpool: Arne Slot

Liverpool is in the midst of a significant transition from the Jürgen Klopp era. A remarkable tactician, Klopp took the club from the bottom to the literal top, winning the Champions League and the Premier League.

During his tenure, Liverpool achieved great success while spending relatively little compared to other clubs, an impressive feat largely attributed to the German. Finding a replacement for Klopp was a challenging task. However, a thorough data analysis process, led by Michael Edwards, identified Arne Slot as the perfect successor.

The appointment of Slot has generated a lot of excitement among Reds fans. The Dutchman’s time at Feyenoord has been extremely successful, as his side played some thrilling football, characterized by high pressing and quick, dynamic play.

One of his key strengths as a manager has been his ability to develop young players, with Mats Wieffer, Quinten Timber, Lutsharel Geertruida and Quilindschy Hartman thriving under Slot’s leadership. The quartet are all being heavily scouted by top European clubs.

Slot has a tactical approach that involves using inverted fullbacks to create an advantage in the centre of the field. Trent Alexander-Arnold is expected to excel in this system, and the performances of Wieffer and Timber suggest that players like Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister will also play important roles under his management.

While this is an interesting appointment, it’s important to note that the Premier League presents different challenges compared to managing Feyenoord in the Eredivisie. The pressures of being a manager at a club like Liverpool are unique, so it will be fascinating to see how this move unfolds.

We give an overall rating of 7/10 for this move.

Head Coach Arne Slot of Feyenoord saying goodbye to the supporters during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Feyenoord and Excelsior at De Kuip on...
Head Coach Arne Slot of Feyenoord saying goodbye to the supporters during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Feyenoord and Excelsior at De Kuip

Barcelona: Hansi Flick

Barcelona has moved on from Xavi after a period of drama surrounding his future. The club felt that a change was necessary and have signed Flick as their new manager. It is worth noting that the latter managed Bayern München in 2020, when they defeated Barcelona 8-2 in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. This crushing defeat sparked a number of massive changes at the Spanish club. During that season, Flick led Bayern to a sextuple making them only the second team in history to achieve this feat after Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Xavi did a great job at Barcelona by promoting young talent from La Masia and restoring belief in the club. However, Flick has a proven track record of success. He is known for being a highly competitive manager who demands the best from his players and excels at man management. After a relatively unsuccessful stint with the German national team, Flick has shown a strong desire to join Barcelona.

Reports suggest that he extensively researched Barcelona’s youth academy and the B team, and is willing to work with the club’s financial constraints. He believes that the current squad is capable of competing at the highest level.

Flick’s Bayern played a fast, high-pressing style of football. Barcelona has struggled with pressing in a coordinated manner and the physical fitness of the players has not been at the top level. Flick is expected to address these issues as he demands intense pressing from his players throughout the 90 minutes. Although Barcelona is not known for direct, counterattacking football like the kind Flick is expected to enforce, the trust lies with the manager. He is tactically flexible too, as he played a primarily possession-based game with Germany.

His use of Alphonso Davies was particularly noteworthy, and Barcelona has a similar player in Alejandro Balde. Barcelona possesses excellent players who can fit into Flick’s traditional 4-2-3-1 formation, complete high defensive line, although a strong defensive midfielder will still be necessary.

Players like Pedri, Fermín López, Ronald Araújo and Frenkie de Jong are expected to play key roles under Flick’s management. This appointment has the potential to go either way, but the positives are immense and have Culers excited. Like Slot, we rate this move as a 7 out of 10.

Germany coach Hansi Flick during the friendly International match between Germany and Japan at the Volkswagen Arena on September 9, 2023 in...
Hansi Flick, new manager of FC Barcelona

Chelsea: Enzo Maresca

After much speculation, Italian manager Maresca has been chosen to replace Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea. The Blues finished sixth this past season, a massive improvement on the 2022/2023 season. They showed a lot of positive signs towards the end and achieved some excellent results. Pochettino’s sacking shocked many supporters, as did Maresca’s appointment, but the good implications are there.

After serving as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City, Maresca took over at Leicester City last season with the goal of achieving promotion back to the Premier League. The Foxes achieved this with amazing results and Maresca was appreciated for the style of play. It is almost to be expected at this point, given his experience with Guardiola, one of the world’s best managers. As a young coach who favours possession-based football and emphasizes the prowess of wingers in 1v1 situations, Maresca is a perfect stylistic fit for Chelsea.

Chelsea has a young team with technically gifted players who will flourish under Maresca. Wingers like Mykhailo Mudryk, Raheem Sterling and Noni Madueke will probably thrive under his management. However, Maresca will require a ball-playing goalkeeper and a centre back with strong on-the-ball abilities, as Chelsea lack world-class players in these positions and are thus expected to enter the transfer market. Already this summer, the Blues have signed Fulham’s back line anchor, Tosin Adarabioyo.

Chelsea also has a talented midfield comprising of Moisés Caicedo, Enzo Fernández and Conor Gallagher (potentially for sale), all of whom possess different qualities that will suit Maresca’s style. Team starlet Cole Palmer is expected to once again dominate in a number 10 role, given his phenomenal stats this past season. Maresca is a brilliant tactician and Chelsea have found the perfect manager for their squad’s abilities.

Leicester City Manager Enzo Maresca poses with the Sky Bet Championship trophy after the Sky Bet Championship match between Leicester City and...
Leicester City Manager Enzo Maresca poses with the Sky Bet Championship trophy

Perhaps a top 4 finish this season and a title challenge will be expected from them in the near future with the Italian at the helm. Overall, we give this move a solid 8 out of 10.

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