Soccer is a results-oriented business, and there are consequences when the results don't meet expectations. Liverpool FC's disappointing league campaign prompted the club to make drastic changes in its management team, which have manager Kenny Dalgish as the last man standing.
On Thursday, LFC parted ways with director of football Damien Comolli (his exit was followed by that of head of sports medicine and science Dr. Peter Brukner). Comolli joined the club as director of football strategy in November 2010, playing a leading role in signing new players. His role was that of a CEO in charge of the soccer operations at LFC, and Dalglish presumably reported to him.
Nine first team players moved to Anfield under Comolli's watch, and it is in this department that he has come under the heaviest of criticism. Liverpool has spent around £116.5 million ($185.9 million) on new players since January 2011, and there has not been a satisfactory return on the investment.
Dalglish and Comolli both refute claims that certain players were signed by one or the other. Each signing was the result of collaboration.
"[Comolli] has been really helpful in every transfer target we've gone for," the Telegraph reports Dalglish said. "Everyone who has come into the club since Damien has been here was of my choice. Once I made the choice who I wanted Damien went away and did a fantastic job of bringing them in."
But LFC chairman Tom Werner expressed some dissatisfaction with Comolli's performance. He told LiverpoolFC.tv that the club will be busy shopping in the summer, and Comolli was "not the right person" to execute the club's transfer plans.
"I think it's fair to say no supporter would be delighted with the results we've achieved this year," Werner said. "… We prefer stability. But when it's time to act, we need to act. We're coming close to the end of the season and the transfer window for the summer, and we felt it was important to make this change expeditiously.
"We feel there is enough talent on the pitch to win and, as I said, we've been dissatisfied, as most supporters have been, with the results so far. But we're also talking about the future – we have a strategy we need implemented and we felt Damien was probably not the right person to implement that strategy."
The move leaves the club's immediate future firmly in the hands of Dalglish. As the Reds struggled through their worst run in nearly 60 years, there was talk that the LFC manager's job was on the line. If Comolli's departure doesn't squash those rumors, Werner's support certainly will.
"We've got great confidence in Kenny," Werner said. "We feel the team is going to make strides in the future and he enjoys our full support."
To prove it, Fenway Sports Group has entrusted him with control over all soccer matters — at least for the time being. He will take responsibility for identifying and securing LFC's transfer targets at least during the summer. Dalglish will determine which current players remain at the club as well. He will also have greater responsibility over over his back-room staff, including assistant coaches and the medical staff.
"King Kenny" will captain the ship known as HMS Liverpool FC into the great unkown future. He now owns the responsibility for delivering success — and the pressure and scrutiny that comes with it. An old-school manager like Dalglish might even prefer it that way. The game was different during his first spell in charge. Managers were responsible for every aspect of the club before the glitzy Premier League era.
In looking to restore Liverpool FC to its former glory, ownership has now given the club icon total control over on-field matters. The club will have to fight and claw for any success it will achieve. Dalglish, who has recently displayed his combative side, will lead the way with his charges firmly behind him.