2JRCDK4 Crawley Town's James Balagizi celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the Carabao Cup second round match at Broadfield Stadium, Crawley. Picture date: Tuesday 23rd August, 2022.

Liverpool loanee facing uncertain future as manager quits after 34 days

Liverpool may face a decision over loanee James Balagizi in January, with the youngster set for his third manager in six months at Crawley Town.

Balagizi’s move to League Two was seen as a potentially fruitful one when he made the temporary switch to Crawley at the end of June.

That certainly promised to be the case as he made a strong start under Kevin Betsy, with nine starts in 11 appearances bringing three goals and an assist.

But the 19-year-old’s progress was curtailed by a groin injury that required surgery, and when he returned to action, Betsy had been sacked and replaced by former Stoke winger Matt Etherington.

Balagizi then started twice and came off the bench in Etherington’s third game in charge, but that has also proved to be the manager’s last.

In a statement on Crawley’s official website on Thursday morning, director of football Chris Galley confirmed the departures of Etherington and assistant Simon Davies after just 34 days in charge.

“It has become clear to all involved parties that this partnership is not the right fit to carry the club forward and achieve our goals,” Galley explained.

CARDIFF, WALES - Monday, March 29, 2021: England's James Balagizi during the pre-match warm-up before an Under-18 international friendly match between Wales and England at Leckwith Stadium. England won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For a club that signed reality TV personality Mark Wright on non-contract terms in 2020 and recently invited YouTubers to join first-team training, it is only the latest episode in what is becoming a circus.

Balagizi, who remains one of Liverpool’s most talented young players, finds himself in the middle, with uncertainty over his role under the next manager.

When he arrived at Broadfield in the summer, Betsy claimed that Crawley “had no right really to be signing a player of [Balagizi’s] quality.”

But with his former England youth coach now long gone, it remains to be seen whether Liverpool will consider a recall in the January transfer window and, perhaps, a move further up the Football League pyramid.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 1, 2022: Liverpool's James Balagizi during the pre-match warm-up before the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Manchester United FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

It is apparent that the deal was completed largely due to Balagizi’s connection to Betsy, and though he has become a valuable player at Crawley, there is a sense he could shine in League One, rather than League Two.

He may not be the only player set for a mid-season rejig, either, with doubts over Billy Koumetio and Max Woltman at Austria Wien and Doncaster respectively.

Marcelo Pitaluga, meanwhile, is likely to be recalled and sent to a Football League club after shining for non-league Macclesfield.