Writer: Gavin Kelley-Day
Date:Friday December 14 2012
Former Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli has defended his time at Anfield and feels he has unfinished business with the club...
Ex-Reds employee Damien Comolli has issued an outspoken justification of his record concerning player transfers whilst at Liverpool.
The Frenchman, sacked from the post of director of football in April, has been widely blamed for a number of expensive and unsuccessful recent signings including Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson.
The three signings alone cost over £70m and heavily contributed to the total outlay of around £113million that the club spent on nine new players during Comolli's 17 months of negotiating deals.
Comolli however feels it is wrong to look at the players purchased in isolation and believes the money recouped from sales and a reduction of the club's wage bill should also be considered in any analysis.
"First of all you need to look at the big picture," explained the 40-year-old to the Daily Express. "We did 26 deals, and to think we would not make any mistakes in such a huge number of deals in and out would be totally unrealistic.
"I don't think we made any mistakes on the players going out, and whether we made mistakes on the players who came in I think, first of all, time will tell. I am very uncomfortable for players to be judged after six, eight or even 12 months."
In relation to the much-maligned club record signing of Andy Carroll for £35m, Comolli refused to acknowledge it was a mistake and even revealed he warned owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) of the risks.
"If you want to talk about the Carroll deal, the situation was quite clear," said Comolli of a player now on loan at West Ham United.
"The way we looked at it, we were selling two players - Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel - and we were bringing two in - Luis Suarez and Carroll - and we were making a profit and the wage bill was coming down considerably as well. It was a four-player deal.
"Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher for Torres. The difference between their first and final bid is double.
"They (FSG) asked me what the risks were and I said if things don't go well you'll lose something on Andy, but it is difficult to measure whether you will make money if things go well because Liverpool aren't a selling club and he could be here for the next 10 years."
Liverpool's manager at the time, Kenny Dalglish, also followed Comolli out of the exit door during the summer despite reaching both domestic cup finals last season and winning one.
Commenting on a period in March when he stayed with the club's principle owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner, Comolli revealed he told the pair to keep Dalglish in charge.
"Tom Werner said, 'Do you think Kenny is the right person?' I said, 'Definitely.' John Henry agreed with me. Kenny deserved longer and I told that to the owners many times. I never felt it (sacking him) was the right thing.
"The big turning point was the game against Arsenal the week after we won the Carling Cup. If we could win, anything would be possible. We missed a penalty and lost in injury time.
"But you were still looking at progress. Getting a trophy in year one, getting to the FA Cup Final, I think financially we were in a very good position. We managed to lower the wage bill a lot. The owners were delighted with that.
"I still struggle to watch Liverpool. I'm p***ed off, frustrated and annoyed because there is unfinished business."
The former Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur scout has remained out of work since departing Merseyside but did recently win a wrongful dismissal case against his former employers. A court hearing in October saw a severance package agreed by both parties.
It is very hard to defend any of the prices paid for players during Comolli's period in charge of the club coffers. I do have some sympathy over the Carroll deal as Torres' decision to leave forced our hand at a very late stage of the transfer window. The move clearly hasn't worked out of course but that can happen regardless of the quality of player or the cost involved. The price paid for the likes of Downing and Henderson cannot be so readily explained however and the outlandish spending during this period is probably largely responsible for the owners' decision not to give new man Brendan Rodgers more financial backing this past summer. Hopefully FSG have learned from their mistakes and will be wiser with their investments going forward. The decision to subsequently disband the director of football role is a good indication that they are finally getting their heads around the issues of running a football club especially as a business enterprise.
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Date:Friday December 14 2012
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