Liverpool’s recently appointed Director of football, Damien Comolli, is not one to shy away from blowing his own trumpet. He claims credit for the recent successes of the Spurs team, particularly the uncovering of Gareth Bale. Having been in charge of recruitment for three years at Spurs from September 2005- October 2005, it is no wonder that the majority of the team are players he has signed. Especially given that this was a period of strong investment in the transfer market by Tottenham. His claims, although debatably credible, expose a lack of professionalism and hunger for media attention for the man now at the helm of Liverpool’s transfer policy. When surely the club are wishing to turn attention away from the backroom staff and running of the club and onto positive events on the field.
It also shows an extremely selective memory, neglecting such expensive failures as Darren Bent and David Bentley, Tottenham’s two most expensive signings. Other players bought to the club that have evaded Comolli’s memory consisted of Hossam Ghaly, Ricardo Rocha, Gilberto and Dorian Dervite to name but a few. Such an expansive but scattered transfer policy was bound to bring in a few gems that have gone on to establish themselves in the first team. But the long list of failings in such a short space of time suggests Comolli is not the shrewd recruiter of talent he would have us believe.
Under Martin Jol there was a clear emphasis to bring in young British talent to the club in order to build for the future. This could go some way to explaining why Comolli’s signings at Spurs are only now beginning to flourish given time and correct management. And perhaps given a different brief at Liverpool i.e. to find players that would immediately improve the first team; he could prove beneficial in the short term given his eye for talent. As his successful signings at Spurs, which he is more than happy to point to, suggest he does possess. However aside from the less than successful players mentioned he also resided over the recruitment of two strikers each costing over £13m, Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko. They were subsequently deemed by two successive managers, Ramos and Redknapp, unable to play together at a time when they were the only recognised senior strikers in the squad. Although it is unclear who is entirely to blame for this scenario, it seems to me that a Director of football should recruit players to fill the positions needed and should know how they can fit in to the existing. The failure to address the departure of Michael Carrick, that so badly affected a team that was a lasagne-gate away from qualifying for the Champion League in 2004, has got to be seen as a huge transfer failure. Especially if Zokora was intended as that replacement, given his game is completely different of that of Carrick’s.
The most baffling transfer scenario that developed during Comolli’s time at Tottenham was the failure to address the problem on the left wing. A problem admittedly that Spurs had had for a few years before his arrival. But I find it hard to believe that neither Jol nor Ramos told the Director of football that this was a position they needed to fill by entering the transfer market. Yet instead of a left winger or even left sided midfielder Spurs became flooded with mediocre central midfielders such as Murphy, Ghaly, Boateng, O’Hara who were all forced to play out on the left and therefore never got the opportunity to show what they could really do. Right back was the other position where Comolli’s scattered transfer policy was overindulged, with Hutton Chimbonda, Corluka and Gunter all coming to the club in the space of two years. Seeing as Hodgson seems to be doing a reasonable job of signing central midfielders that are not going to set the world alight in Poulsen and Miereles. Liverpool fans should be concerned with the possibility of a high influx of young right backs to settle their problems in front of goal.