Athletic: Data-driven approach led Liverpool to Fonseca before Slot decision

By Oliver Fisher -

A report has revealed some background on how Liverpool ended up deciding on Arne Slot as their new head coach, with Paulo Fonseca’s name popping up.

According to The Athletic, Liverpool began a data-led process to replace the outgoing Jurgen Klopp and when Xabi Alonso ruled himself out of contention they had to pivot. The Ruben Amorim rumours caused ‘a degree of annoyance’ within the club, because they did not want other candidates thinking they had offered the job to somebody else.

Ultimately their hierarchy were ‘unconvinced that his preference for a three-man central defence’ and his playing style being a bit too slow. There were ‘similar conclusions’ about De Zerbi at Brighton and Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Iraola at Bournemouth and Eddie Howe at Newcastle United were also discussed, in addition to Stuttgart coach Sebastian Hoeness (whose data scores were closely aligned with Klopp’s) plus Michel of Girona.

Inter’s Simone Inzaghi was regarded as a ‘well-respected coach whose lack of English was potentially problematic’ while Lille’s Paulo Fonseca was considered too, albeit ‘never seriously in the frame’.

Thomas Tuchel was not a concrete option at any point, while Ernesto Valverde and Luciano Spalletti, were ‘of significant interest’, but in the end they went for the Feyenoord fan favourite Slot.

When their directors set out to find Klopp’s successor, they believed they would start with 20 candidates and gradually whittle them down to 10, then perhaps five and then three for a final round of interviews.

However, they settled on Slot as their preferred candidate fairly quickly and they then persuaded Liverpool’s ownership team to open formal negotiations with Feyenoord.

Now it seems Fonseca with arrive at Milan against a backdrop of discontent, but it certainly raises questions if he was on Liverpool’s radar and perhaps implies a data-led element to the Rossoneri’s decision.

Tags AC Milan Arne Slot Paulo Fonseca


    1. Yea because the manager whose club finished second and third in Netherlands is clearly better than Fonseca.

      1. I love that you ate ready to give Fonseca the benefit of the doubt, as will I. BUT you have to agree there were better options available.

        I would have even taken Sarri.

          1. Paulo Fonseca will succeed at Milan,if you don’t support him,I will be his number one supporter.

        1. Definitely better options. Of that there is no doubt. But there are people making these decisions with billions of dollars and their reputations at stake. I think every appointment deserves the benefit of the doubt for this reason alone. The arrogance that some people have to think they know better is astonishing. All the biggest clubs this season are appointing lesser managers instead of huge names. Could it be possible that instead of being inept, Milan’s management are at the cutting edge along with Bayern, And Liverpool?

        1. This is the data driven approach:
          Paulo Fonseca was considered too, albeit ‘never seriously in the frame’.

  1. Of course Milan used a data driven approach to selecting Fonseca. Why else would Lopetegui name be on the list of potential targets for the job.

    Just look at the YouTube video from the TransferRoom. They did an assessment on Paulo Fonseca and how clubs should select a coach and how a coach should choose his next team.

    Getting Paulo Fonseca will make more sense to Milan fans after watching the analysis from the TransferRoom YouTube video.

    1. Yeah I believe that. I read a pretty good article about him in the NYT from March. Made me feel better about his appointment.

  2. How misleading title…
    From “Data driven approach led to Fonseca..” to “never seriously in the frame”.
    Quite a different, right?
    And, is this supposed to be good news for us? We get the name which was barely in the top 10 (!!) list of Liverpool candidates.

  3. I’ve watched Foncesca at Roma and Lille and he is underwhelming at best. No team with real ambition hires him.

      1. >so was Spalleti at Inter
        Spalletti made his name at Roma

        >Sacchi at Parma
        Bad faith argument
        Parma were a Serie C1 team when Sacchi took charge and promoted them to Serie B
        It took until 1990 for Parma to promote to Serie A
        Sacchi beat Milan with that Serie B Parma twice in the Coppa Italia and made it to the Semi-Final

        When people bring up Sacchi to defend some mediocre coach I wanna punch them in the face

        1. Bad faith! Milan finished 5th that season and sacked their coach by the spring. They brought in Capello to finish the year.

          1. Liedholm(Milan Legend) was a good coach with experience at the top level who had previously taken Roma to the European Cup final(to date Roma’s only CL Final).

            Milan’s position in the last 5 matches under Capello didn’t improve(5th when Liedholm was sacked, 5th at the end of the season).

            Parma had a much worse team than Milan.
            Sacchi still beat and eliminated a much more experienced Liedholm twice in the same season and drew with him once.

            What Sacchi did was very very impressive and Berlusconi took notice.
            Berlusconi also wanted to clear the old guard like Liedholm too so that he could execute his vision unimpeded, and that he did.

        2. Also when you compare sacchi’s cv with fonesca’s at the time of their appointments, Fonesca’s is significantly better. By a lot.

          Freaking Ivan Juric beat Milan multiple times does that mean he should be manager?

          1. Fonseca lost to Pioli.
            Fonseca has not achieved much in the top flight of football and he’s been a manager for close to 20 years now.
            Sacchi with a Serie B team beat Liedholm who had won scudetto twice(1 with Milan and 1 with Roma) and reached a CL Final with Roma.
            Just stop talking.

  4. Good enough title to warrant our attention and get us talking about everything but the thinly veiled suggestion that he wasn’t a serious contender…nice try (real sh*tty article).

  5. Why are people so quick to judge Fonseca. Let him work then judge him. Ancelotti hadn’t won anything when he was coming to Milan. Capello was a youth coach. Sacchi was in serie B when he was picked. Spalletti had been a coach in serie A for over 20years before he won his first title. There are so many examples. If he was chosen there must be a reason. Let them work

    1. It’s nothing against Fonseca personally. He should be judged on merit.

      It’s just that better options were out there to fit this project. By all accounts Fonseca is a lateral move from Pioli.

      1. Not lateral. Down. Fonseca is clearly less accomplished than Pioli. Just look at the most recent season: Pioli placed second in the second best European League (Serie A has just leapfrogged La Liga). Fonseca, instead, placed only 4th in the league that is only the 5th best European league. Fonseca won stuff in Ukraine, a very low quality league. Didn’t win anything in Serie A (placed 7th and 5th). Pioli won Serie A, and placed 2nd twice.

        1. >Pioli placed second in the second best European League (Serie A has just leapfrogged La Liga). Fonseca, instead, placed only 4th in the league that is only the 5th best European league.

          Misleading comparison.
          Teams like Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, Real, PSG etc. are all way better than Inter.

    2. We have seen his body of work. And in my opinion his style of play is lacking in ambition. We all have a taste in how we want to see football and it is ok to voice it. Sacci and the others you mentioned had a compelling vision even in failure for me, Foncesca does not.

    3. Once again you lying p****. Sacchi promoted Parma to B himself. Parma were in Serie C1.
      He also beat Milan twice in Coppa and eliminated us.

      Stop talking about things you have no clue about.
      Sacchi was an unknown, Fonseca is clearly known and everybody knows his level.

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