Liverpool are in the process of searching for their next permanent manager following Jurgen Klopp’s decision to leave Anfield at the end of the season.
How do you go about replacing Jurgen Klopp, a man who has returned Liverpool to their once former glory, who has reignited and unified the passions of a true English colossus?
I suppose the answer is that you cannot. As Manchester United discovered to their peril upon the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, simply going out and finding a cosplaying knock-off is no guarantee of continued success.
Klopp has rebuilt Liverpool in his image over the past nine years, and whoever his successor is, they must surely do the same in kind.
Already two prospective names have emerged at the forefront of the speculative pack. Former Red and current Bayer Leverkusen wunderkind Xabi Alonso is an obvious choice given both his connections to Merseyside and the transformational job that he is presently enacting in North Rhine-Westphalia.
His Bundesliga leaders are still yet to lose a game in any competition this season, and are peddling a brand of football that feels as if it has been lifted directly from the imbalanced coding of a video game.
The other option, according to the bookmakers, is Roberto de Zerbi. When Graham Potter left Brighton and Hove Albion to drink from Chelsea’s poisoned chalice, there were concerns that whoever replaced him on the south coast would struggle to replicate his stellar work. There is a strong argument to be made that the Italian has overtaken him entirely.
Like Alonso, De Zerbi has garnered a reputation for a tactical approach that is both intricate and aesthetically-pleasing, but it is not beauty for beauty’s sake.
Brighton, though flawed, play with purpose and precision, and even though the relative thinness of their squad and an occasional lack of a consistent goal threat has hampered them to an extent in recent seasons, they continue to be one of the most impressive sides in the Premier League. De Zerbi has to take a significant amount of credit for that.
Of course, the blockbuster appointment would be Alonso – the cult hero of the Kop on a career trajectory that threatens to catapult him into the heavens at any given moment.
But given his experience in the English game, and that extent to which he has proven himself in spite of the relative modesty of his surroundings, you could certainly make a case for De Zerbi being the man Liverpool should pursue.
After all, it is the common consensus that the only limitation the Brighton manager faces at the present moment in time is the talent of the players in his charge.
Make no mistake, that is no slight on Albion who, for the sake of reiteration, are a wonderful, wonderful side. But you suspect that De Zerbi, given a team of title contenders, would thrive.
His footballing brain is as sharp as anybody’s in the division, his coaching ability and the manner in which brings the best out of a dressing room is undeniable.
You would assume that he would be the easier hire too. Even if Leverkusen were to relinquish their grip on Alonso this summer, every elite club in Europe is going to be hot on his heels. De Zerbi, comparatively speaking, could sneak under the radar a little.
It probably goes without saying that many Liverpool supporters would rather their side opted for their former midfield maestro at the end of the season, but maybe, just maybe, a better alternative has been staring them in the face this whole time.