Liverpool FC are said to be “surprised and disappointed” by Julian Ward’s decision to quit as sporting director, with numerous journalists reacting to the news.
On Thursday, the shock news emerged that Ward would be departing Anfield at the end of this season, having only been in his new role for six months.
The 41-year-old took over from the influential Michael Edwards as sporting director earlier in the year, in what was hopefully a seamless and long-term transition.
Things haven’t transpired that way, however, and Ward will head off to pastures new once the current campaign reaches its climax.
Unspursingly, it is a development that has dominated the Liverpool headlines on social media, with numerous renowned media figures providing their thoughts on the matter.
The Athletic’s James Pearce took to Twitter to describe it as a “major surprise” – one that hopefully won’t hamper the Reds’ recruitment model moving forward.
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) November 24, 2022
Pearce explains that Ward will remain in the role until May.
Meanwhile, Goal’s Neil Jones stated that Liverpool are “surprised and disappointed” by the news, also reminding supporters that Ward was “chiefly responsible” for the signings of attacking maestros Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez.
Liverpool surprised and disappointed by Ward's decision, and have begun process of identifying correct model going forward.
— Neil Jones (@neiljonesgoal) November 24, 2022
Further explaining, Jones writes that:
“Liverpool made significant efforts to persuade Ward to stay, but that changes in organisational structure at Anfield, as well as the looming spectre of a possible takeover of the club, have played a big role in his decision – in particular, the decision of Mike Gordon to take a back seat in terms of day-to-day operations in order to focus on a potential sale.”
Fellow journalist David Lynch admitted that everything at Liverpool is “looking far from rosy” currently, with this news suggesting that past stability has been lost.
Ward's departure positioned as his decision but surely a concern that it follows on so quickly from his predecessor doing the same. Throw in FSG's desire to sell as well as a poor start to the season and everything looking far from rosy at Liverpool at the moment.
— David Lynch (@dmlynch) November 24, 2022
Dominic King of the Daily Mail said that the club have “reluctantly accepted” Ward’s decision to move on, highlighting the regard he is held in and how damaging this could be.
Julian Ward will leave Liverpool at the end of the season, the club have reluctantly accepted his decision.
No indication who will replace him at this stage as Sporting Director but all options are open, including recruiting from outside.
— Dominic King (@DominicKing_DM) November 24, 2022
Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph was arguably the individual most taken aback by the development, simply asking “what the f*ck is going on?”, albeit a little tongue-in-cheek.
Julian Ward quits: Story and my take on ‘what the f*ck is going on?’ here.https://t.co/vo7Qu3A6up
— Chris Bascombe (@_ChrisBascombe) November 24, 2022
There is no question that this is concerning news for Liverpool, with Ward seen as someone who was going to take them into the future and fill the Edwards-shaped void.
Instead, this quickfire change suggests that all is not well at Anfield, with the current ownership situation further clouding things.
Liverpool need to act fast and ensure that a tailor-made replacement for Ward is sorted as soon as possible – someone who can dovetail with Jurgen Klopp in the transfer market and ease the burden on the manager.
There are suggestions that Klopp could take more of a hands-on approach with transfers, but it is essential that he has strong deputies alongside him, as was the case both Edwards and Ward.
In a further development, it has also been revealed that another of the club’s transfer analytics team, Dr Ian Graham, has also resigned and is serving his notice period.