Today's big news from Merseyside is that Damien Comolli has been hired as director of football by new owners NESV. Frankly, I'm so confused as to what to make of this I feel like I'm watching a David Lynch film. At the basest of levels, the Director of Football over the Manager model preferred on the Continent has generally not worked at all in England -- where managers are much more accustomed to having total autonomy. It's apparent that NESV could give a toss what Hodgson thinks of any of this, because he's only on a two year deal and looking less and less likely to finish that out. He has no leverage to rail against this, as Benitez did with various directors above him.
And what of his record? Well, he held this position at Spurs. He signed Gareth Bale, Hurelio Gomes, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Luka Modric, and Roman Pavlyuchenko, which isn't awful. Modric and and Pav were on the expensive side but A) in today's market they weren't obscene prices and B) came at a much younger age than Liverpool are buying now. This is probably why he was hired, as this is exactly what NESV is looking for.
But he's had his misses, too. Darren Bent, David Bentley, and Jonathan Woodgate have been a giant suckfest for one reason or another at White Hart Lane. Alan Hutton is just getting back into the team, and Woodgate was a health concern before he ever arrived. Harry Redknapp didn't hesitate to decry the state he found the squad in, though this was partly in an Allardyce-ian fashion to make sure everyone around knows what a great job you're doing.
So we can't learn from that. Speculation going around is that Comolli also has a love for stats that NESV clearly do, that they see sport the same way. This is something I've been meaning to address since NESV took over. There's been a fear from both sides of the pond that NESV is going to follow the Moneyball model, which the British press only understand as a way to work on the cheap. While the Red Sox did operate on a heavy-sabremetric model, they did it on a sort of 2.0 model. They didn't do it on the cheap. They valued the same numbers and stats that the Oakland A's and Billy Beane did, but they went out and paid top-dollar for those who did it best. Beane constantly had to lose the gems he unearthed due to finances. The Red Sox didn't. I'm sure this is what they envision for Liverpool.
Because they are not an oil oligarch or shiek, Liverpool are going to have to go outside the box. NESV does that. This is the same team that hired a 28-year old Theo Epstein as its GM and had the baseball world howl in derision. Epstein was ending the World Series drought only a couple years later. Liverpool cannot afford to splurge with the City's and Chelsea's and United's (though we're not sure United can any more). They're going to have to find another way. Is Comolli that man? I don't know. But I think I'm willing to find out.