How Michael Edwards’ return can kick off Liverpool’s plan to ‘recreate’ Jurgen Klopp

With Michael Edwards taking up a new, wider role overseeing Liverpool, the plans are beginning to fall into place for life after Jurgen Klopp.

There is an iconic scene in the critically acclaimed 2011 sports drama ‘Moneyball’ that gets straight to the heart of what is a fascinating true story.

In it, Billy Beane, the general manager of struggling baseball team the Oakland Athletics, played by Brad Pitt, wrangles with his scouts over the best course of action following the departure of the team’s star player, Jason Giambi.

As his more old-school colleagues scramble to suggest alternatives way out of the Athletics’ price range, Beane famously interjects: “You’re still trying to replace Giambi. I told you we can’t do it, and we can’t do it.

“Now, what we might be able to do is recreate him. Recreate him in the aggregate.”

Now that line may be a dramatised version of reality, but it serves to underline the mindset that – as the film later shows – prompted Fenway Sports Group to try and bring Beane in to reproduce his magic with the Boston Red Sox.

Though he politely declined that offer, the same ‘Moneyball’ ideas were subsequently used to underpin a World Series victory – the Red Sox’s first in 86 years – just two years later.

And if Tuesday’s news of a return to Liverpool for Michael Edwards – as CEO of Football for FSG – is anything to go by, the owners’ principles have not shifted in the subsequent two decades.

Edwards’ appointment marks the first step in the Reds looking to account for the loss of their own Giambi this summer, with Jurgen Klopp set to step down after almost nine years in charge.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 2, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) and Alexis Mac Allister after the FA Premier League match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. Liverpool won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ironically, it is FSG’s recognition that their manager was an irreplaceable one-off that actually prompted the 44-year-old’s initial departure in May 2022.

Klopp’s growing influence on recruitment was known to be a source of conflict, though last summer’s business – including bargain deals for Wataru Endo and Alexis Mac Allister – is perhaps proof that there was value in indulging the German.

Still, there has never been any doubt that FSG feel more comfortable with a traditional structure in place, and that is what they are set to return to in preparation for the loss of their biggest difference-maker.

Edwards is arguably the second most influential figure in Liverpool’s transformation across the last decade, and has taken up a role with far greater scope this time around.

Rather than being solely concerned with matters at Anfield, he will head up football operations for FSG as CEO of Football, with plans for a possible multi-club setup part of his remit.

It will also be interesting to see what this all means for Mike Gordon, who briefly stepped away from his role last season and has served as the main link between Boston and Liverpool down the years.

Those long-term ramifications can wait, however, with Edwards’ first port of call set to be installing Richard Hughes in his old job as sporting director.

2K6932A LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 12: head coach Xabi Alonso of Bayer 04 Leverkusen during the Group B - UEFA Champions League match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Porto at the BayArena on October 12, 2022 in Leverkusen, Germany (Photo by Joris Verwijst/Orange Pictures)

Then, the Reds can get on with seeking a new manager, with Xabi Alonso understood to be their top target and Sporting’s Ruben Amorim also among those admired.

Of course, on their own, none of these appointments is likely to match the slam dunk of bringing in a bonafide genius to lead the team back in October 2015.

But then FSG know they would be stupid to even try, and that is why they will instead look to recreate Klopp in the aggregate.