Ruben Amorim’s style of play and changes he could make if he becomes new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp’s time at Liverpool is almost over, and a new era is on the horizon at Anfield next season. 

Liverpool are still in the race for the Premier League and the Europa League but come the summer, attention will swiftly turn to the new manager, which looks increasingly likely to be Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Amorim. 

Several major outlets have reported in the last few days that the Portuguese is the hot favourite to succeed Klopp, with his native country reporting that a three-year deal has already been verbally agreed. 

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With a new manager comes an array of changes, and Amorim’s philosophy and style of play is both different and similar to Klopp’s. 

Here is a rundown of how Amorim likes to approach each game and some of the changes he could make if he is the new man in the Anfield dugout next season 

Amorim’s 3-4-3 formation and how it works 

Under Klopp, Liverpool have predominantly favoured a 4-3-3 setup, occasionally utilising a 4-2-3-1. Amorim prefers to use a 3-4-3, which is something Liverpool have never deployed during Klopp’s reign. 

At Sporting, all three of Amorim’s centre-backs are expected to be comfortable on the ball and are capable of moving into midfield, with the two wing-backs attacking down both flanks, accompanied by two central midfielders who play further up the pitch, followed by a conventional, inter-changing front three.  

Amorim has had huge success with this system, as Sporting are in pole position to win the Primeira Liga- four points clear of second-placed Benfica and with a game in hand. 

Like Liverpool, they also score quite frequently. They have scored 79 goals in the Portuguese top-flight this season- the most in the league by some distance.

So, how do they operate?

The defence 

Starting with the defence, Amorim’s backline are quite intense and keen to pounce during transitions- which is arguably straight from the Klopp handbook. Former Liverpool centre-back Sebastian Coates acts as the main hub of the back three for Sporting, typically spraying diagonal passes from deep or starting the build-up from the back. 

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Virgil Van Dijk would likely perform that role, given his experience in a similar role for the Dutch national team. 

The other two centre-halves- usually Ousmane Diomande and Gonçalo Inácio- are quick, aggressive and capable of keeping possession. Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez are two suitable candidates, with the emergence of Jarell Quansah offering another viable option. 

Playing in a back three might initially be alien to some of Liverpool’s players, but it’s clearly an effective setup that Amorim has flourished with. It also raises questions about where Trent Alexander-Arnold fits into it all.

The midfield 

Sporting’s two centre midfielders- mainly Morten Hjulmand and Pedro Gonçalves- are positioned higher up the pitch, with Hjulmand acting as the pivot and Gonclaves playing as more of a box-to-box midfielder. 

This area of the pitch is where we might see a noticeable shake up if Amorim arrives at Anfield, given Klopp plays with three in midfield, but with players like Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Curtis Jones, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch, Amorim would have plenty of options to choose from.

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As for Sporting’s wing backs, they hug the touchline at all times during the game, supporting the attacks by staying high and wide. Andy Robertson and Conor Bradley would most likely take up those roles, which brings us onto the involvement of Alexander-Arnold. We could see him play in the back three and move into midfield or alternatively, Amorim could deploy the Englishman as a marauding wing-back and still get the most out of his attacking prowess.

However, when Alexander-Arnold is deployed on the wings his defensive deficiencies are often exposed. His role in the team would certainly be a headache for Amorim. 

The attack 

This area of the pitch is where we might not see any major changes. Sporting’s striker, Victor Gyokeres- who arrived from Coventry in the summer and has since scored 27 goals in all competition this season- is constantly on the move which creates space for the two wide players, Francisco Trincão and former Spurs prodigy Marcus Edwards. Sporting’s attack in terms of their setup is very similar to Liverpool’s, so Amorim’s focus may be centred around improving what Liverpool already have. 

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It would be interesting to see if Amorim could unlock the full potential of Darwin Nunez, considering the rapid development Gyokeres has made in such a short space of time since moving from the Championship to one of Europe’s top leagues. 

The same can be said for Cody Gakpo, who is currently seen as Liverpool’s fifth choice attacker. Could Amorim find a different role for him in the team or even nudge him up the pecking order given his versatility in attack? 

All of this does not necessarily mean that the setup Amorim uses at Sporting will be the one we see at Liverpool, should he join the club. 

The 4-2-3-1 system that Klopp used at Dortmund was much different to the one he eventually settled on at Liverpool, so it may be that Amorim accommodates for the players already at Liverpool and changes his tactics and formation based on that.

Given that most of Liverpool’s players have been indoctrinated into Klopp’s style of play, Amorim could instil his methods but in a completely different setup to the one he’s operating with at Sporting.  

If he is to be the new manager of Liverpool, there will certainly be changes in some shape or form.

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