‘Moneyball,’ Billy Beane Cited as Influences on Liverpool Director of Football Damien Comolli


Sep 24, 2011

Following their purchase of Liverpool last Octobor, principal owner John W. Henry and Fenway Sports Group set about reshaping the club's infrastructure, notably appointing Damien Comolli as director of football. Much like FSG installed analytic expert Theo Epstein as general manager of the Red Sox, Comolli's appointment signified that Liverpool would follow a similar path in relying upon statistical analysis to drive player personnel decisions.

Comolli's introduction to analytics came through his work as a scout for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has a master's in economics from the University of Strasbourg, and the critically acclaimed book Moneyball. Speaking to ESPN.com, Comolli said, "[Wenger] started using statistics, and I'm sure he was the first one, to look at players and see when they started to decline physically, especially in fitness. When I left Arsenal and went on my own, I grabbed his philosophy and I wanted to do more with it."

Comolli, who built the core of Tottenham's current side before being fired in 2008, recently acknowledged the influence of baseball analytics and Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A's and a devout follower of analytics, in his decision making process.

After going from France's AS St. Etienne to Spurs, and then back again, Comolli is now back in England with added experience and a list of contacts that stretches around the entire soccer world. His time with Liverpool has seen an extensive roster turnover, with the Frenchman going on an expensive shopping spree this past summer with a net expenditure of over $55.5 million to bring in players including, but not limited to, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, and Jose Enrique.

Liverpool supporters will be hoping that Comolli's use of analytics will be as successful in application as that of Epstein's, who was appointed general manager in 2002 and helped guide the Red Sox to their first championship in 86 years two years later.

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