It is a modern trend in English football to look at the continent for inspiration, positive advances on aspects such as nutrition, training formulae and tactical advances have all been welcome imports to the already high octane ever popular English football. However one new fashionable aspect to the game is the Director of Football role.
I have often wondered what the true nature of this position entails. Behind the sexy job title it seems to be a rather shallow role. Is he a levy between the owners and the manager?
If so, that suggests Kenny and FSG rarely speak therefore clouding judgements over players; are they the manager’s choices or the Director of Football’s? At some European club’s the position is filled by a glorified figurehead, an experienced man in the game such as Bayern Munich’s Karl-Heinz Rumminegge, or a poster boy/spokesman like PSG’s Leonardo.
Comolli’s apparent remit was to do what he does best, act as a soundboard and offer invaluable insight into the managers transfer targets. This was supposed to be a marriage between Dalglish’s old-school football instinct, his gut feeling about a player, and Comolli’s Billy Beane “Moneyball” inspired obsession with psychological profiling of players. On the whole it is plain to see that at this point in time this out of the box thinking has failed. New ways of thinking should not be dismissed as out of the question but when a manager takes the helm he quite rightly lives or dies by results which are a culmination of a myriad of little details all of which he is responsible. Comolli was not in the firing line having his ability to do his job in question after every below par performance by his recruits, this responsibility was not shared but burdened by one man – the manager.
It has been widely reported that King Kenny needs to watch out as he may go next after his Knight has left the chessboard but perhaps it is a vote of confidence by the owners leaving Dalglish with a free reign over future transfer dealings. The English game has traditionally given the manager total control over all aspects of the day to day running of the club with the benefactor overseeing the project, this has been one of the reasons why older successful managers such as Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson have had such longevity, the buck stops with them as they never had or would accept a director of football peering over their shoulders. With extensive scouting systems and access to every registered player stats available at the click of the button do we really need further reasons to tamper?
On the continent it is generally accepted that the Director of Football should be a club legend, someone who understands the club ethos, a standard bearer and someone who can be wheeled out for show at occasions such as Champions League draws, the general manager is the levy between the coach and owner or president, someone to act as a suitor on behalf of the club to snare a wide-eyed prodigy.
In Comolli’s time at Spurs he had a pretty decent hit rate of players who have developed well after his departure. Signings such as Kevin Prince Boateng, Gareth Bale and Giovanni Dos Santos were of varying levels of success but he bit the bullet when Harry Redknapp took over with his own ideas – none of which included a Director of Football. Let’s hope that FSG have parted company with the right man and we can turn our fortunes around also.
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