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Xabi Alonso Heading Liverpool

Xabi Alonso has made a significant impression during his relatively short time as a head coach at Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen.


As a player, the Spaniard was recognized as one of the finest midfielders in the world. He won multiple trophies with Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, including the Champions League twice, after first impressing at Real Sociedad, where he developed in their youth team.


In international football, Alonso was part of the 'golden generation' that led Spain to consecutive European Championship titles in 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 World Cup. He won 114 senior caps in total, putting him eighth in the all-time list for the men's national team.


As a coach, Alonso has made great strides with Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen, where he took charge in October 2022. His work in Germany has now led to speculation that he will become the next permanent manager of Liverpool in England, with Jurgen Klopp having announced he will step down at the end of the 2023/24 season.


Alonso has also been linked with the Real Madrid job, and he is a prime candidate to succeed Carlo Ancelotti when the Italian eventually leaves the Santiago Bernabeu.


The Sporting News  looked at Xabi Alonso's managerial record so far in his short career, and whether he could have what it takes to manage at one of the world's greatest clubs.

Alonso has not been in management for long, starting his journey into coaching in 2018 as a youth coach for Real Madrid.


After a season in Madrid, he moved onto manage Real Sociedad B, where he also played during his football career. He spent three seasons crafting his management style there before looking for a professional job from June 2022.


Leverkusen needed a new manager after a dreadful start to the season, and Alonso stepped in to help Die Werkself. He got off to a good start with a 4-0 win over Schalke, and he went on to lead Leverkusen to a sixth-place finish in the Bundesliga in 2022/23, qualifying for the Europa League in the process.


Last season, Leverkusen reached the Europa League semifinals, losing narrowly over two legs to Roma, managed by Jose Mourinho, Alonso's former Real Madrid coach. There was reported interest from Tottenham Hotspur in summer 2023 before Alonso signed a new contract with Leverkusen that runs until 2026.


It has proven to be a huge benefit to the German club: they sit top of the Bundesliga table after 19 matches, two points ahead of champions Bayern Munich, while they are in the quarterfinals of the DFB-Pokal, and they qualified for the Round of 16 in the UEFA Europa League after winning all six of their group games. Remarkably, they have not lost a single match in 2023/24.

Team

Years

Wins

Draws

Losses

Real Madrid (youth)

2018-2019

-

-

-

Real Sociedad B

2019-2022

40

23

35

Bayer Leverkusen

2022-present

41

14

10

Leverkusen appointed Alonso on October 5, 2022 and gave him a deal which expired on June 30, 2024. This would give the board enough time to see whether or not he was the right person for the job. 


When Alonso took the role, the club were in the relegation zone after winning once in their opening eight league matches. Leverkusen ended the season in sixth place, qualifying for Europe. That was enough to see Alonso rewarded with a new contract that runs until 2026.


Although Alonso failed to win any of Leverkusen's three Champions’ League group-stage matches, he led his team to the last four of the 2022/23 Europa League, where they lost 1-0 on aggregate to Roma.


In 2023/24, they are on track to win a possible treble of Bundesliga, Europa League, and DFB-Pokal titles.


Will Xabi Alonso be the next Liverpool manager?


Jurgen Klopp stunned the football world on January 26 when he confirmed he would be stepping down as Liverpool manager at the end of 2023/24.


The German has delivered significant success to Anfield since taking charge back in October 2015, and succeeding him represents a seriously difficult task.


Talk has already turned to who will be handed that challenge, and Alonso is one of the leading candidates. The Daily Mail claimed the Spaniard is one of the top choices on a shortlist put together by Liverpool's senior figures, alongside Brighton & Hove Albion boss Roberto De Zerbi.


Alonso's connection to the Reds after his successful spell as a player at Anfield would likely make him a popular choice. His record as Leverkusen head coach would make it a shrewd one.


On September 25, it was reported by Radio Marca in Spain that Alonso had been chosen as top target to succeed Ancelotti in 2024. Given his connection to the club as a former player and his commitment to a positive style of football, it is an appointment that would likely generate some excitement, even if the 42-year-old remains relatively inexperienced as an elite-level manager.


However, Ancelotti sprung a surprise on December 29, 2023 when it was announced he had signed a contract extension until June 2026, ending any suggestion Alonso could take over imminently.


Alonso spent some time in England during his playing days, occupying the playmaking role for Liverpool between 2004 and 2009. Incidentally, my eldest daughter and I had the pleasure to see Chelseal beat Liverpool 3-2 in the Carling Cup final of 2005 in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.


The Reds bought the midfielder for £16 million from Real Sociedad to play alongside Steven Gerrard. Rafael Benitez was the manager at the time and Liverpool were strong enough to fight for every trophy.


Alonso won four titles in his time at Liverpool, including the Champions League in his debut season on Merseyside.


Take care!

Prof. Carl Boniface

 

Vocabulary builder:

Strides (n) = paces, steps, advances, progresses, developments, improvements

Narrowly (adv) = barely, hardly, scarcely, only just, by a whisker, closely

Remarkably (adv) = unusually, strangely, oddly, curiously, bizarrely

Shrewd (adj) = astute, sharp, smart, perceptive, wise, clever

 

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