Earlier this month Liverpool’s owners, the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) called manager Kenny Dalglish over to Boston for a review of the clubs performance. After the meeting it was decided that Kenny would no longer be manager of Liverpool FC. The events in Boston draw a line under what has been a fairly disappointing season, despite winning the Carling Cup and making the FA Cup final.
Even before Dalglish lost his job changes where already happening at the club. FSG had already departed company with Damien Comolli- The Director of Football Strategy, Ian Cotton- Director of Communications and Peter Brunker- Head of Sports Medicine and Sports Science. A big clear out all of which leaves the club free to impose their vision on the club. Whatever that may be.
Much has been made of the ‘Moneyball‘ approach to football. Especially this season the term has been applied to the approach that Newcastle United have under taken in their rise up the Premier League table. The fact that the ideology behind the idea was the brainchild of an American, Billy Bean, it seems a philosophy that the American owners of Liverpool are keen to replicate at the club.
Kenny Dalglish proved to not fit the template sort by the owners. He was, in affect a man brought in to steady a sinking ship. And to a degree he did that, uniting the fans in the post Roy Hodgson era. It was a sensible choice at the time, FSG had just taken over after the disastrous reign of fellow Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett and needed a gesture to win the fans over. Dalglish was who the fans wanted and FSG complied with their wishes. Kenny was appointed in care-taker role but was given the role on a permeant basis after turning the form of the club around.
But the good times would not last. As the new season started progress results on the field would not come. Liverpool’s form was inconsistent to say the least and the results speak for themselves. Winning only six games at Anfield and finishing in eighth spot is unacceptable for a club of it’s size. Michael Cox the man behind zonalmarking.net recently spoke on the Football Weekly podcast:
“If you were FSG you wouldn’t really have seen a great deal of progress this season. I appreciate the need to give managers time and this was a long term project but … Dalglish was changing his team every week, there was no structure. There was nothing that I thought ‘well that parts working they need to improve this’…..I didn’t think there was enough signs of progress.”
The new signings that come into the club have also been highly criticized. The sum of money paid for players who have preformed poorly: Jordan Henderson £16m, Andy Carroll £35m, Steward Downing £20m, Charlie Adams £9m and Luis Suarez £22.8m is the primary reason that Comoli lost his job.
The feeling is that the club over paid for these players and they have not preformed. It’s quite ironic that the club would blame Comolli when he was recommended by Billy Bean the brain behind of ‘Moneyball’. Comolli after being sacked claimed that he was frustrated by the ‘buy British’ transfer policy imposed on him by the club. However this is what he said apon signing Steward Downing:
“We look thoroughly into data before signing players, as well as statistics, and we really think we are getting a big, big asset throughout. Maybe his talent has been undervalued in English football. We know what we will get and we are getting a very efficient player.”
Unfortunately you can spin statistics to prove anything. At one point Leon Britton of Swansea was being being compared to Xavi due to this passing statistics but anyone who has actually watched the two players would be able to tell they’re not in the same league (figuratively).
The racism row that engulfed the club over the Luis Suarez- Patrice Evra incident was also poorly handled by the club. The entire incident would not have impressed FSG and the reaction from the media and on social media outlets to Liverpool’s decision to wear t-shirts in support of Suarez was deemed a PR disaster. These problems contributed to the removal of Ian Cotton in his Director of Communications role.
Now the club have started their search for a new manager. The list of candidates appears to be long and appears to grow every day. So far Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers and Ajax’s Frank De Boer have turned down approaches from the club. Both managers are still in their managerial infancy and are and around the 40yr old mark so that would appear to be the type of manager the club are chasing. In part 2 I’ll have a look at the managers that I think are serious contenders for the role.