How did Roberto De Zerbi fare in his Liverpool audition? LEWIS STEELE assesses the Brighton manager's performance at Anfield as he vies with Ruben Amorim to replace Jurgen Klopp


It was sold as an audition for Roberto De Zerbi. If not for the Liverpool job, for which he has been regularly mentioned, but for the soon-to-be vacant positions at Bayern Munich, Barcelona and, who knows, perhaps also Chelsea and Manchester United.

So from Merseyside to Munich, how did De Zerbi fare? His Brighton side lost 2-1 to Premier League leaders Liverpool but this certainly was not a failure. His case was somewhat strengthened by the fact the wasteful Reds scored just twice from 30 shots.

But Brighton gave this a good go. Where many teams come to Anfield looking to sit back and reduce space, the Seagulls’ approach was brave, daring and caused Jurgen Klopp’s men a number of problems.

But Brighton did not sit back and try to counteract that. Instead, they pushed high up the pitch, with Simon Adingra and Tariq Lamptey causing problems from wide areas, plus Danny Welbeck and Jakub Moder staying high and sitting right on the toes of Liverpool’s central defenders.

Roberto De Zerbi has been linked with a number of high profile jobs ahead of next season

Roberto De Zerbi has been linked with a number of high profile jobs ahead of next season 

The Italian could be in the frame to succeed Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager this summer

The Italian could be in the frame to succeed Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager this summer 

Amorim has been working wonders at Sporting CP and is known as an acute tactician - knocking Arsenal out of the Europa League last season

Is De Zerbi ready for a top club? Given his track record it would be hard to argue that the he does not deserve a chance

Ruben Amorim is the strongest candidate as it stands to take over from Jurgen Klopp

It caused the Reds, who have not lost a league match at Anfield since October 2022, many problems in the first half especially. Bradley was excellent going forward but often left chasing shadows in a defensive sense.

Worth adding as well is that Brighton were without several key attacking players here, such as Kaoru Mitoma, Joao Pedro, Solly March and Julio Enciso, all key members to the Seagulls’ output.

So, is De Zerbi ready for a top club? Liverpool fans tend to be far from sold on him, with Ruben Amorim the strongest candidate as it stands. But given his track record, it would be hard to argue that the Italian does not deserve a chance.

The biggest compliment one can pay De Zerbi is the fact that Brighton are ninth and it feels like a subpar season. This is a club that, not too many years ago, was delighted to stay in the Football League with last-day heroics at Hereford.

He took them into Europe for the first time in their history and beat the likes of Marseille and Ajax, not to mention missing out on an FA Cup final by slim margins last season. If anything, Albion are overachieving this season.

So De Zerbi definitely deserves a crack at the big time. Is that Liverpool, though? When browsing this season’s results, heavy defeats to the likes of Luton, Aston Villa and Roma stick out like a sore thumb. 

The Anfield touchline could become a regular home for Roberto De Zerbi next season

The Anfield touchline could become a regular home for Roberto De Zerbi next season 

The Italian's excellent work at Brighton could see him take a top job as his next move

The Italian’s excellent work at Brighton could see him take a top job as his next move 

He can get away with those score lines at Brighton, but imagine the headlines if Liverpool or Bayern lost 6-1. Of course, the players at his disposal would be better at those clubs, but there is a feeling that his system is too open to win a league title.

But his comments over the last 72 hours, in which he has refused to commit his long-term future to the club, speak to an unsettled manager who probably believes he has outgrown Brighton. He is unlikely to force an exit but it would be a surprise if he was still in situ come next August.

Whether it clicks in terms of success for De Zerbi at a continental giant or not, one thing is guaranteed: it will be exciting football.



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