Comolli capture signals clever start for NESV
Damien Comolli is Liverpool's new director of football strategy and TEAMtalk's Ian Watson believes the Frenchman will prove a wise appointment. John W. Henry's vow to under-promise and over-deliver gave some insight when NESV eventually completed their takeover of Liverpool as to how the new American owners would be different from the old ones. Their first signing epitomises that strategy and signals a leap in the right direction for the Reds. Damien Comolli was confirmed as the club's new director of football strategy on Wednesday, and while many Liverpool fans may not be familiar with his work, the mere fact that his position was created at all should act as a source of encouragement to the Anfield faithful. Comolli brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience, having operated in similar roles - despite slightly differing titles - at Spurs and St Etienne after a spell working under Arsene Wenger for Arsenal as European scout. His main responsibility at Anfield appears to be the identification and recruitment of new talent, but his influence will no doubt also be felt in other areas of the club. The director of football title is often sneered at by many in the British game, including some managers who naively see the role as a threat to their authority. Roy Hodgson, however, has spoken of his happiness over Comolli's arrival and though I doubt he had any say in the appointment of the man who will eventually decide his fate, the under-pressure Reds boss could have much to gain from co-operating with the newcomer. Hodgson has been a man on the edge for the last few weeks and despite assurances from the new owners, the manager has carried a beleaguered look with him since long before Henry and co strolled into town. Comolli's arrival means Hodgson can focus very much on the now, while the Frenchman takes care of the future - one that looks unlikely to involve Hodgson unless the manager can use the reduction in his responsibilities to inspire a vast improvement in his team's performances between now and May. Comolli's appointment signals a welcome shift away from the short-sightedness that engulfed Anfield during the final year or two of Hicks and Gillett's reign. Liverpool's transfer business - and even the appointment of Hodgson - was all about the here and now, with new arrivals and rumoured targets offering a short-term fix but little in the way of longevity or scope for development. Henry alluded to a change in attitude on that particular front when NESV took over, and Comolli's track record suggests Liverpool will seek to be much savvier in the transfer market, with talent, potential and value more attractive than reputation. As has been repeated over and over this afternoon, Comolli was indeed the man who brought Gareth Bale to White Hart Lane, though the former Southampton youngster was hardly an unknown. Comolli's key contribution to the Bale deal was not discovering the Welshman, but persuading him to choose Spurs over Manchester United or other 'bigger' clubs, just as he did in the case of a number of exciting talents, including John Bostock and Danny Rose. Comolli also ensured Tottenham got to Dimitar Berbatov ahead of United, who had to pay Spurs an extra £20million just two years later to finally get their man. Comolli also played a huge role in bringing to White Hart Lane many of the players who make up Spurs' current best side. Indeed, seven of last night's XI were bought under Comolli's watch (including Kaboul who was originally purchased by Comolli before being sold to Portsmouth and then bought back again), as were regular goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and goalscoring substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko. Comolli had his share of bad buys, of course, but his overall transfer record would compare favourably with the vast majority of managers, including Hodgson. When NESV arrived, many questioned their track-record in football - or lack thereof - and asked how they expected to restore Liverpool to former glories with little or no experience of how the game works. The fact that NESV and Henry are happy to put their egos aside and bow to those with greater knowledge also serves as another positive aspect of Comolli's Anfield arrival. Many claim taking overall responsibility away from the manager does not work in the English game but there is no reason the new arrangement cannot be a success on Merseyside. You only have to look at Sunday's opponents, Chelsea, for proof of the rewards it can bring. Carlo Ancelotti has been working under a Football Board that has been in place since long before the Italian's appointment. The six-man board, featuring Frank Arnesen as it's headline name, work alongside the PLC board but oversee all football matters, including transfers. Just like any organisation or team, getting the right individuals within the group is key, but Chelsea have shown how successful the set-up can be in England and with Henry clearly willing to learn from the success of others, a similar restructuring may well be on the cards at Anfield. Henry has asked for patience as he and NESV get to work, and after the trials and tribulations of the last 18 months, the indications are that they will get it. Despite Comolli's signing hardly rivalling that of Fernando Torres or Joe Cole in the excitement stakes, he could prove to be one of the most crucial and symbolic arrivals of the new regime.
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