Ex-Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso looks impressive in his first managerial role


Elite clubs in European football are placing increasing importance on having a coach who has a special connection to the supporters. In England, club heroes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard have moved to Manchester United and Chelsea respectively while Arsenal have turned to their former midfielder Mikel Arteta.

In Spain, the three biggest clubs – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – are all managed by former players who have had distinguished fate at these clubs and who have built cult status among fans.

In Italy, the appointment of Andrea Pirlo to head Juventus, just weeks after his appointment as Under-23 coach, has been another big profile of elite clubs taking this approach.

Liverpool did not fit that model with the appointment of Jurgen Klopp in 2015, who had no connection with the Reds or English football before his arrival. Now he has a special connection to the club and a connection to the fans, due to his understanding of the club’s broader meaning away from the pitch and the principles and philosophies for which they represent.

The importance of managerial popularity cannot be underestimated. Klopp’s approval rating among Reds backing was already particularly high before guiding the club to success at home and in Europe.

On the other hand, Maurizio Sarri is not remembered at Chelsea although he guided them to a top three and a Europa League title in his only season at the helm. He is also not much appreciated at Juventus, for whom he won the title. It was a similar theme for Unai Emery at Arsenal, or Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona, ​​despite having won successive league titles and left the top of La Liga.

From Liverpool’s point of view, one need only look as far as Roy Hodgson to see how apparently he was still crippled by a perception of distance, close to distance, with the fans. Even Brendan Rodgers, who came so close to clinching a league title, had nothing close to fan ties the way Klopp does.

While many Liverpool fans won’t want to be reminded of this, Klopp won’t always be there at Anfield. Having been at the club for five years, he will be looking for new pasture – or indeed, take time out of the game – at some point, and potentially the next few years.

The club will be keenly aware that his successor will have a similar task to the one who followed Sir Alex Ferguson to Manchester United.

Liverpool are almost certain to follow the path of an individual who has both an impressive coaching record and a strong connection with the club’s fans.

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One obvious candidate is Rangers boss Steven Gerrard, but another is his former central midfielder partner Xabi Alonso, who is currently Real Sociedad B-team boss, who plays in the regionalised third tier of the Spanish football.

It’s no surprise that the Spaniard has entered the coaching arena for anyone who has followed his playing career.

His play was underpinned by his thoughtfulness on the ball, his ability to control the pace of play, educate those around him and play a crucial role in the pivot position in midfield. His move from Real Madrid to Bayern Munich in 2014 was largely born out of his desire to play under the coaching instructions of Pep Guardiola, having previously played with several of European football’s most renowned and respected coaches.

“I think he’s pragmatic in his approach to football,” Spanish football expert Sid Lowe explained on The Spanish football podcast. “He’s a guy who took the methods of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, and he took pieces from each of them, and he’s clearly very brilliant. ”

The former central midfielder obtained his required coach badges in 2018 and was later appointed coach of Real Madrid’s Under-14 team, before taking the post of La Real’s B team. ‘last summer.

Now in their second season at the helm, his side have made a good start to the campaign, winning their first three league games before falling to a last-minute loss at Amorebieta on Saturday.

Alonso was influenced by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, with whom he played at Bayern Munich

Yet the progress is clear. Not only are the results positive, but so is the style of play.

Real Sociedad’s B-squad are extremely important to a club that trust and value their youth setup, ensuring that the same playing style of their first-team is embedded throughout the club so that all players are ready to be. promoted to higher levels when they reach a suitable level.

They are a club that cannot compete financially with the leading group of Spanish teams, so they have to reinvent themselves to compete. Real Sociedad started this campaign with a first team that included 16 players who had climbed the ranks of their youth teams – more than any other club in La Liga.

The most important B-team star to be called into the first team is Martin Zubimendi, with the parallels to Alonso’s playing career evident. Zubimendi plays in a similar midfield position to the former Liverpool star and is now a regular on the first team at La Real and at the Under-21 level for Spain. Its progression and development are largely accredited by Alonso’s coaching.

It is a natural assumption that the goal of the Basque club is for Alonso to take a similar path to that of current boss Imanol Alguacil, whom he could one day succeed. Alguacil previously coached Team B and played an important role in the development of several of his current first-team stars, so parallels could be drawn with Alonso.

However, there is a flaw in this plan. Real Sociedad are currently leading La Liga and flying high, and while their credentials may not last all season, there is no indication Aguacil will be going anywhere anytime soon. It would seem unlikely that Alonso will continue in his current position indefinitely.

The former central midfielder has already received high-level coaching offers from other European clubs. In September, Bayern Munich CEO Karl Heinz Rummenigge publicly said Alonso was a potential future boss at the Bavarian giants.

“I think Xabi Alonso will be an interesting coach for Bayern at some point in the future,” Rummenigge told German media. image. “He’s a great guy, a smart guy. Xabi has that empathy you need, especially with the current generation of gamers.

Alonso’s leadership qualities and potential are evident. His playing career has seen him play for Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and it would come as no surprise if he had the coaching abilities to have a similar impact with his future career.

Alonso played for Liverpool between 2004 and 2009, helping to win the FA Cup and the Champions League

However, there is a caveat to such an assumption. The 38-year-old is currently back at home, in a low-key role and while he seems to be enjoying his current role, his long-term future may not lie in coaching.

Much like Guardiola led Barcelona’s B squad before finding managerial fame in the first team, Alonso’s career could follow a similar trajectory. His former midfielder partner Gerrard started his coaching career in Liverpool’s youth setup before Rangers bet on his permanent appointment in 2018.

His early results, his player development and his coaching style bode well for a long and successful coaching career, but the situation doesn’t always turn out as clear as it seems.

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There is arguably a lot of potential in what Alonso could become as a coach, but his trajectory is not comparable to that of former Reds teammate Gerrard, who has never hidden his managerial ambitions, which currently look impressive.

Alonso is highly coveted by European clubs but as it stands he is only focused on developing the players at his home club and putting them on the same path to greatness he has achieved.

The future for his club and Alonso looks particularly bright, while Liverpool fans will no doubt keep a close eye on him as his profile inevitably grows in the years to come.


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