Next permanent Liverpool manager: Alonso now fourth-likeliest

The question over the identity of the next permanent Liverpool manager is one that is set to rumble on for whatever remains of Jurgen Klopp’s time at Anfield. Whether he moves on in a couple of years or breaks Sir Alex Ferguson’s record 27-year stint at Old Trafford, he can’t last forever.

As such, there is no shortage of attention on how the odds shift on the identity of Liverpool's next coach. And one name that has recently seen a shortening of his price to take over from Klopp is ex-Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso.

The recent interest in the Basque man has come about due to the job he has done while in charge of Bayer Leverkusen, a club that he joined in October 2022 as they sat in 16th and flirting with relegation. In a remarkable turnaround, he would guide the club to a sixth-place finish in the Bundesliga and a Europa League semi-final.

Alonso has continued this fine form into 2023/24, as Leverkusen look to be the best-placed German team to challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title this season.

Alonso Europa League press conference
Alonso faces the media before Thursday's Europa League clash with Qarabag. (Credit: Federico Gambarini/dpa) – Photo by Icon sport

Liverpool a natural ‘next step’ from Bundesliga

Should Alonso switch from the German top-flight to Liverpool, he would be following in the footsteps of Klopp himself – albeit, as of yet, without toppling Bayern from the throne of German football. Nonetheless, the expected trajectory of Alonso’s managerial career correlates to those experienced by a number of revered modern coaches, including Klopp.

Alonso began his coaching career with the youth system of Real Madrid, before moving to his boyhood club to assume the role of their B-team manager. While in charge of Real Sociedad B, he would guide the club to the Segunda Division, as he won promotion in his second season at the helm.

And going even further back, Alonso also had the privilege of playing under a number of incredibly talented tacticians and coaches – including Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez and Vicente Del Bosque. In turn, he has an incredible insight into what makes attack-minded teams like Liverpool tick.

Xabi Alonso shouting on the touchline
Xabi Alonso oversaw a 3-2 victory at Hoffenheim in his last league outing. (Photo by Icon sport)

Alonso fourth-likeliest in next permanent Liverpool manager market

As of 8 November 2023, Alonso sits comfortably in the top-five of potential winners for the Liverpool role, though the prevailing favourite comes as no surprise. Pep Lijnders (3/1) is Klopp’s faithful right-hand man, and while he would do very well to emulate the sort of charisma and passion the Liverpool boss shows on the touchline, his knowledge of Liverpool’s inner workings make for a seamless transition.

After that, it’s a straight duel between Julian Nagelsmann (11/2) and Steven Gerrard (15/2). It seems only a matter of time before Gerrard returns to Anfield in some practical capacity, and while being sacked by Aston Villa isn’t consistent with the typical ‘next Liverpool manager’ CV, he would be about a 1/5 favourite if the Kop End was to be part of the decision-making process.

That lends extra logic to the placement of Nagelsmann as a close second behind Lijnders. Albeit with a dominant Bayern Munich side that practically picks its own in terms of tactics and personnel, Nagelsmann has overseen a Bundesliga title success as recently as 2022. Plus, he’s well known for implementing his own brand of Gegenpressing, which makes him an ideal successor to Klopp.

Ange Postecoglu (14/1) is an interesting outlier in the current top-five candidates. He’s only been in the Spurs job for a matter of months, and had to deal with the loss of Harry Kane to Bayern Munich. Having seen the Lilywhites occupy top spot only last month, he could still yet keep his new side in the mix for a maiden Premier League title, despite a recent 4-1 derby thumping at home to Chelsea. The Australian is a boyhood Liverpool fan too, which adds extra interest to how his current odds will fluctuate over the next few weeks.

Next permanent Liverpool manager odds – full list

Next permanent Liverpool manager odds

Tactical approach fits Liverpool agenda

While there is admittedly a clear gap between Alonso and ex-Liverpool teammate Gerrard in the above market, there is still a lot of time for the situation to change before Klopp steps down. His ability to improve teams with both the short and long term in mind would be welcomed anywhere, but particularly so at Anfield.

That’s because Alonso looks to play result-driven, fast, and entertaining football. His teams understand that goals will come if there is quality in the final third with a constant supply, and he has found a system that works for him too – a 3-4-3 when the team is attacking, but a 5-4-1 when the side is out of possession.

While it would be a gamble as a successor to Klopp’s famous 4-3-3 Gegenpress, there would be no shortage of domination in possession. Alonso’s penchant for deploying two number 10s could also cause some teams a real headache, with no time for opposition defenders to set themselves in a favourable position.

Ultimately, any significant shortening of the odds for Alonso to be the next permanent Liverpool manager hinge almost entirely on Leverkusen, and whether or not they can end what will be a 31-year wait for major silverware next spring.

Brendan McGilligan

Brendan is a sports journalist from Ireland with a passion for all sport, particularly Football, Gaelic Football and Rugby Union.