FEATURE | Xabi Alonso must inspire star-studded squad to get Bayer Leverkusen out of their current rut

On Wednesday evening Bayer Leverkusen officially announced that head coach Gerardo Seoane has been relieved of his duties and succeeding the Swiss tactician would be former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich great Xabi Alonso, who will take on the role of guiding Die Werkself out of the rut they’re currently in. Alonso has signed a contract until June 30, 2024, taking on his first role in senior management.

In May 2017, Alonso took to Twitter to announce that he will be retiring from playing football. He chose to use a black and white picture of him walking on a pitch with his boots on one hand and waving back on the other. Even though it was a sad news at the time there was no doubt that the World Cup winner, who has been trained by some of the greatest coaches such as Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola, would one day play a vital role in football management.

After managing the Real Madrid youth teams and being in charge of the Real Sociedad B side, Alonso seems to have found an ideal club to kick off his managerial career.

Leverkusen have made a unique managerial appointment by looking abroad and not restricting themselves to managers who previously worked with Bundesliga clubs or are native German speakers. During the unveiling of the new coach, Leverkusen’s sporting Director Simon Rolfes said: “Experience is not more important than quality. Xabi Alonso was our first choice from the start and we’re glad he’s with us now.”

Alonso stated that he wants to play ‘modern football’ which he describes as intensive, active and with a good mentality. He certainly has the players to implement this type of football. Leverkusen isn’t short on squad quality despite their poor start to the season. 

They miss generational talent Florian Writz, who has been sidelined with a long-term injury since last season, but there are plenty of options up front. Patrik Schick is the man tasked with getting the goals even though he is yet to hit top form this season. Moussa Diaby is also key in the team’s attacking game with his pace and movement, causing trouble for opposition defenses. Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is on loan from Chelsea, is still trying to settle in at his new home but is expected to be an integral part of the side.

Leverkusen’s problems this season have mostly come from the defence. Finnish keeper Lukáš Hrádecký has been on the receiving end of plenty criticisms over his performances in the last few weeks. The side has always been unsure in their defensive organisation and individual errors coupled with that has seen results hard to come by, especially in the Bundesliga, with just one win in eight games. This will be one of the main tasks awaiting the new manager.

Alonso’s first game will be against Schalke on Saturday. This is the same team he faced during his first game for Bayern in the Bundesliga, and he will be hoping that this time around he manages to start off with a win.

Brook Genene

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