Following the departure of Damien Comolli as director of football yesterday, Liverpool chairman, Tom Werner – perhaps somewhat surprisingly – said the Club were looking to replace the Frenchman.
When the news of Comolli leaving first broke, some supporters wondered if this was an admission that the director of football role did not work, but Werner said;
“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.”
Over night it has been reported that FSG are interested in former Barcelona supremo Johan Cruyff, while Louis van Gaal has been linked with the role too.
The two Dutchmen are hugely experienced in European football. Both have strong links to Barcelona and Ajax – the two club’s with arguably the most prodigious youth academies in recent decades. This is no coincidence, with FSG keen to implement a strong youth policy at Liverpool. The owners see the youth system as a vital way to gain an advantage in the Financial Fair Play model, and with the Club hamstrung by it’s income and revenue until a new stadium is built.
The Reds have already made huge steps since Rafa Benitez ordered a complete overhaul of the Academy and youth set-up, with the appointment of former Barcelona duo Rodolfo Borrell – now the Reds reserves coach – and Pep Segura – LFC’s academy technical director.
Another man with Barcelona links who has previously linked with Anfield – and other club’s such as Chelsea and Tottenham – is Txiki Begiristain. He was at the Camp Nou for seven years in similar director of football role.
Werner’s comments that the structure may be “tweaked” opens up the idea that the new director of football could have a remit to strongly focus on the youth development aspect, with the player purchasing power handed firmly to the manager.
Another name linked with a move to Liverpool is former Arsenal vice-chariman David Dein, possibly under a new structure with current managing director Ian Ayre’s role being altered back towards being more commercially oriented. However, we understand Dein would be very unlikely to take up a role at any club other than Arsenal. He does seem to be somebody whose opinion John W. Henry values and is likely acting in an informal advisory role to the owners.
The BBC report that Van Gaal who has been out of work since being sacked as coach of Bayern Munich in April last year, has indicated he would consider the position were he to be approached.
Both Van Gaal and Cruyff have had somewhat difficult relationships with the boards of club’s they have worked at recently, with Cruyff recently leaving his advisory role at Ajax after a long running feud with the directors at the Dutch club. He is also currently an advisor to Mexican club Chivas.