LONDON: Damien Comolli, having left his post as Liverpool’s director of football by “mutual consent,” has apparently carried the can for the American owners’ dissatisfaction with the return on their transfer investment.
A statement on the Anfield club’s website, a threateningly disruptive two days ahead of their FA Cup semi-final against Everton at Wembley, revealed the parting of the ways. Media reports suggested that Ajax and Barcelona icon is one of the names on a target list of possible replacements.
Peter Brukner, Australian head of sports medicine and sports science, has also left Liverpool though the club insist the position of manager Kenny Dalglish is not under threat.
“We’ve got great confidence in Kenny,” chairman Tom Werner told Liverpool’s website. “We feel the team is going to make strides in the future and he enjoys our full support.”
He added: “We’ve had a strategy that we have agreed on. There was some disconnect on the implementation of that [but] that strategy is a strong one and it will continue. We need to build a strong system under the first team. We’re hard at work identifying transfer targets and we will be better next year.
“Frankly, we make these decisions with a great deal of care because it’s our track record in Boston to give people authority and we’ve had great success with our manager, who was there for eight years, and our general manager, so we prefer stability.
“But when it’s time to act, we need to act. We’re coming close to the end of the season and the transfer window for the summer and we felt it was important to make this change expeditiously.
“We feel there is enough talent on the pitch to win and I would say we certainly have the resources to compete with anybody in football.
“But we’re also talking about the future. We have a strategy we need implemented and we felt Damien was probably not the right person to implement that strategy.”
Comolli’s departure does not, however, mean the director of football role has been abandoned entirely, although it may be return under a different guise.
Werner added: “We’re still confident the structure we’ve discussed is the right structure. That doesn’t mean we won’t look at tweaking it, but we feel a collective group of people making football decisions is healthy.
“The debate is healthy. Part of the reason we made this decision now is because we want to start the process of finding an excellent replacement. We’ve been dissatisfied, as most supporters have been, with the results so far. We feel feel we are a club that needs to be perceived as the strongest club in football and we want to get there.”
Comolli brought in £115m of players in the last 15 months for Fenway Sports Group, almost half of that made up by the splashes of a £35m club record on under-performing Andy Carroll from Newcastle and £23m on Luis Suarez from Ajax Amsterdam. Stewart Downing cost a further £20m and Jordan Henderson £15m. Both have struggled to find their feet at Anfield.
The Frenchman joined Liverpool as a director of football strategy in November 2010, with his role redefined in March last year after he survived the change of manager with Kenny Dalglish returning to the club in place of Roy Hodgson.
Principal owner John Henry said: “We are grateful for all of Damien’s efforts on behalf of Liverpool and wish him all the best for the future.” Chairman Tom Werner added: “The club needs to move forward and we now have a huge game on Saturday. It is important that everyone joins us in supporting the manager and gets behind Kenny and the team and focuses on a strong finish to the season.”
Comolli himself, who had also worked for Arsenal and Tottenham, said: “I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to work at Liverpool and am happy to move on from the club and back to France for family reasons. I wish the club all the best for the future.”
Dalglish, in a more laconic observation, said: “I had a fantastic working and personal relationship with Damien since I came in here. Everyone we’ve gone for since I came here was of my choice and Damien went away and did a fantastic job of bringing them in.
“It’s sad to see anybody leave the football club and he goes with my best wishes. I hope it’s not long before we can meet up again. It’s disappointing but I suppose there is not much in football which comes as a surprise.”
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