Blog » Who's The Boss?
In 1998 Liverpool Football Club announced the arrival of Gerard Houllier as a
partner in crime to the then manager in situ: Roy Evans. A decision which in
retrospect was indeed criminal, but you have to give credit to the club for
attempting such a bold experiment (not since the club was first formed had we
had more than one manager) either that or lambast them for not having the guts
to replace Evans outright, if that’s what the directors felt was necessary. It’s
worth noting that under Roy (the good one) we were League Cup winners, F.A Cup
runners up (we needn’t go into details on that) and never finished outside of
the top four. Houllier was appointed alongside Roy and the ‘experiment’ blew up
in our faces with the club having its worst season since Souness’ departure;
finishing 7th and eliminated from all 3 cup competitions early on, something had
It was apparent the main problem with joint management was in decision making, in any walk of life it’s imperative someone has the final say or nothing ever gets done, it appears to be no different in football.
“As always I am focused on training and coaching my team” a phrase that will be embedded in the minds of journalists and fans alike, a brilliant and typically bullish response from Rafa Benitez in regards to the previous owners inference that there would be no money to improve his squad. Benitez was determined to build a legacy at Liverpool, and being told to ‘just coach’ I’m sure felt like a personal affront and frustrated the life out of him and his vision for Liverpool Football Club, but until Shankly arrived in 1959 that was exactly what was expected of a Liverpool manager, just coach. They didn’t even have the power to pick their own team, which is why we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn Phil Taylor’s managerial reign. It needed a man of Shankly’s character to demand he be allowed to ‘manage’ the club, but even then there was interference from above with Shankly famously threatening to resign in 1962 after having the board sell winger Johnny Morrisey to city rivals Everton for a mere £10k. Morrisey went on to win to the league title and f.a cup with Everton.
Which brings me to where we are today, another experimental first in the club’s history is the appointment of Damien Comolli as Director of Football Strategy with the ‘strategy’ tag having been dropped since his arrival. A quick look at the official website shows Comolli as level in the staff hierarchy with Dalglish, is this not the joint management experiment under a different name, except with carefully pre-defined roles? I don’t know, I have no inside information I’m just a fan wondering what it is that Comolli actually does? Paul Machin recently mentioned on the RedmenTV that an agent friend of his described Comolli’s role where Kenny would ask to recruit for a specific position with Comolli then suggesting three or four players in that position, with the King getting the final say. Excuse my ignorance here, and please tell me if I’m wrong but isn’t that a scout? Perhaps the role could be described as something in between a chief scout and a traditional C.E.O? again I don’t know but does anybody? does Damien? does Dalglish? are there clear boundaries where one decision maker ends and another begins? And is Dalglish's role simply to focus on training and coaching his team?