Smiles, success and stepping up – two days up close with Slot

It seems pretty clear now that Arne Slot is Liverpool bound.

His last game as Feyenoord head coach will be on May 19 at home to Excelsior.

Excelsior is Latin for higher.

And Slot is heading for higher things.

A job high up the world football scale, he hopes to bring more highs to Anfield.

High energy, high line, high entertainment.

Slot’s high on the charm scale too, and that is important to Liverpool.

Not as important as winning and playing style of course, but a big factor in choosing Slot.

Like Jurgen Klopp he’s got a glint in his eye, and he’s got swagger, and like Jurgen, Arne has a perfect set of white teeth – and a big friendly smile that makes the most of them.

He loves a camera, and finds dealing with intense media scrutiny very easy.

His news conference on Thursday night at Go Ahead Eagles underlined that, as did our brief interaction on the steps of the Feyenoord team hotel a few hours earlier.

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Feyenoord boss Arne Slot had an exchange with Sky Sports News reporter Gary Cotterill as he was asked about taking the Liverpool job

After the match, Slot was frank. Very frank.

In front of a room full of Dutch media – foreign media were banned from attending by the host club – he wasn’t asked at all about the 3-1 away win that had just guaranteed Feyenoord Champions League football again next season.

All the questions were about Liverpool, and he answered every one.

No platitudes, no “No comment”, no dodging the issue.

Just, almost, full disclosure.

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Feyenoord boss Arne Slot says he is confident the club will reach an agreement to allow him to join Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp’s successor

Yes: He wants Liverpool.

Yes: Liverpool want him.

Yes: Negotiations are complicated… but

Yes: He was sure a deal could be done.

A perfect performance, and 11 months ago he handled the Tottenham links with similar panache.

As mentioned, that ability to get the media onside was very much on show at the team hotel earlier in the day, too.

He jumped off the team bus, with a big smile on his face, fully aware myself and Sky cameraman ‘Spiney’ were waiting to pounce.

Not for him bolting straight to the hotel entrance door.

Instead he got his (perfectly ironed) match night shirt and suitcase from the luggage compartment, and played along with us.

He agreed, when questioned, that he was ‘in the news’ and ‘wanted to go to the Premier League’.

And, but for an over-zealous hotel duty manager getting in the way, he would have said more.

That ‘doorstep’ as we call it, went around the world.

His demeanour and good grace was commented on by many.

But there’s another part to that encounter. And here it is.

When the team bus left the training ground for the 90-mile drive to the hotel, we were about to make the same journey.

We knew which hotel they were heading too.

But the driver thought we were following the coach – and the head coach – and, jokingly went three times around a traffic island to pretend to try and shake us off!

Football banter at its best.

The Feyenoord team bus tried to give Sky Sports News' Gary Cotterill the slip!
The Feyenoord team bus tried to give Sky Sports News’ Gary Cotterill the slip!

Slot and the players loved it… I even suspect Slot suggested the driver did it!

On the subject of football travel, two of Slot’s Feyenoord squad have unexpected ways of getting to training everyday.

Unexpected for top pro players that is.

Yankuba Minteh, on loan from Newcastle, cycles in, posing with fans wanting photos on the way.

Fellow young forward Leo Sauer walks!

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp appeared to endorse his potential successor Arne Slot, describing him as a ‘good coach and a good guy’

Of course, Feyenoord to Liverpool is a very big step.

But those who know Slot on and off the pitch say he’s up to the challenge.

He’ll be dealing with bigger, better players at Anfield of course, but even the rich and famous respond to kindness and humour.

From what I have seen, Slot has that in bucket loads.

No doubt, it’s easier being nice when you’re winning, and doing that is the very least expected of Slot from the word go at Liverpool.

The stakes are high.

Expectations are higher.


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Melissa Reddy shares the latest on Feyenoord’s Arne Slot proposed switch to Liverpool to replace Jurgen Klopp

Essential Questions Podcast: Is Slot the man for Liverpool?

Ron Walker is joined by Sky Sports News’ senior reporter, Melissa Reddy and Sky Sports football journalist Adam Bate to discuss Slot’s potential move to Liverpool as Klopp’s successor.

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