Following Neil Critchley’s decision to give up his duties at Liverpool U23s manager to take charge of League One outfit Blackpool there has been a huge void left to fill at the club following the former Crewe Alexandra midfielder.
Critchley was forced into managerial duties on numerous occasions in Jurgen Klopp’s absence, as he took charge of two cup fixtures this season, firstly in a Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat to Aston Villa back in December, and then a dramatic 1-0 win over Shrewsbury in the FA Cup fifth-round.
Replacing Simon Grayson at Bloomfield Road, Critchley’s departure has left Alex Inglethorpe, academy manager, and Tim Jenkins, Critchley’s former assistant and academy analyst, as the men to take charge of the U23s until the club identify a suitable replacement.
The Reds are certainly not short of candidates to fill the current vacancy left by Critchley and here at RTK we have evaluated a list of viable suitors we feel would be an adequate replacement for Liverpool’s former FA Cup inspiring manager.
Here are three possible replacements for Critchley as U23s boss…
Lewtas represents the most likely choice for the role and would represent a natural succession at the club similarly to when Steven Gerrard left his post as U18s manager in 2018 to take the role as Rangers boss.
Lewtas was then forced to then step up from the under-16s to take charge at U18 level, and the ex-Wigan and Bolton youth coach has been a shrewd addition.
In his 18 months in charge, Lewtas oversaw an FA Youth Cup-winning campaign to bring the prestigious prize back to the club for the first time since 2007.
The young Reds also finished second in the league to Manchester City – missing out only on goal difference while this season Lewtas was able to inspire Liverpool into the last-16 of the UEFA Youth League.
One major benefit of promoting Lewtas to the U23s is that he will effectively be moving along some of his current stars from the U18s with him with talents such as Conor Bradley, Layton Stewart and Tom Hill some of the standout players this season.
Let’s be honest, how good would it be to see this man back at the club.
Although the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich star would love to return to Liverpool the reality is the role as U23s manager would not represent a progression in his managerial journey for Xabi Alonso.
Alonso, 38 is currently in charge of Real Sociedad’s ‘B’ side in the Spanish third-tier. This is practically the role of academy manager and is a highly respected role in nurturing homegrown talent in Alonso’s home country.
One of the perks of taking the role at Liverpool would be more managerial exposure in terms of long-term pathways into senior management.
The lure of Liverpool would be tempting but it would certainly take something special to convince Alonso that this is a job the Champions League-winning midfielder could not refuse.
Another man who already has experience of working at the Kirkby set-up following an informal role at the club for five-and-a-half years before Fowler made the decision to become the senior manager at Brisbane Roar in Australia.
Fowler has largely impressed during his time down under but the opportunity to return to his boyhood club could be too good to turn down.
While taking over Liverpool U23s manager could be seen as a step down from the A-League, it could create a more measurable pathway to getting the top managerial jobs in English football similarly to Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Sol Campbell.