On the same day it was revealed Julian Ward was stepping down from his role as Liverpool’s director of football at the end of the season, it’s now being reported that yet another key staff member has resigned.
Ian Graham, the club’s director of research, will also be leaving the club in May, according to The Athletic.
David Ornstein, the same reporter who broke news of Fenway Sports Group’s decision to put Liverpool up for sale, claims Graham handed in his resignation in June.
Both he and Ward are now seeing out their notice periods until May, giving the club time to identify replacements.
Graham has played a key role in Liverpool’s data led player recruitment and analysis in recent years, working closely with Michael Edwards and Ward.
Several supporters have expressed their concern at Graham’s impending exit:
I’d be more concerned about Graham leaving Liverpool than Edwards, Ward or FSG. That’s a terrible sign and one that suggests the whole data-driven culture inside the club is fading.
— Josh Williams (@DistanceCovered) November 24, 2022
Dr Ian Graham has been at the club 10 years and leads a six man team. He worked alongside Michael Edwards for a significant period and is very much in tune with the recruitment model. He could be next to leave.
— Lewis Bower (@LewisBower2021) November 24, 2022
Ian Graham has been instrumental in our analytical approach to player identification and assessment. Losing Ward and Graham so soon after losing Edwards is bad news. It'd be even worse if they're going to a rival. https://t.co/6HNz8RAQhn
— Red (@TaintlessRed) November 24, 2022
The exit of Edwards at the end of last season, and now Ward and Graham, would suggest that Liverpool’s data-led recruitment model is coming to the end of its cycle.
According to The Times’ Paul Joyce, Jurgen Klopp has played an increasingly “hands-on” role in transfers over the past 12 months.
It will be interesting to see how the club go about replacing two key staff members, having preferred to promote from within in years gone by.
The process to identify and appoint Ward’s and Graham’s replacements is something Klopp is expected to be heavily involved in.
The Times‘ Paul Joyce adds that Liverpool “will now evaluate what is the best model to support football operations moving forward.”
Having only taken over from Michael Edwards in the summer, Ward’s resignation comes as a big surprise, during an increasingly uncertain period of time for Liverpool.
Owners Fenway Sports Group are inviting offers for the club, with Mike Gordon stepping back from his role to focus on a potential sale.