Liverpool missed the opportunity to stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League table last Sunday, losing 3-1 away to Arsenal.
The Reds struggled in the absence of players such as Mo Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai, who has suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury which kept him out of the side for much of January. Salah has been seen running at the AXA Training Centre and may be in contention for Saturday’s game against Burnley.
Off the pitch, the quest to appoint a sporting director to work in tandem with a new manager got off to a shaky start. LFC’s former transfer supremo Michael Edwards has turned down the opportunity to replace Jörg Schmadtke, who left the club last week.
The snub leaves Operations Manager Mike Gordon with two major vacancies to fill ahead of the 2024/25 season.
On the latest episode of our Journo Insight show, we asked experienced LFC reporter Neil Jones for his thoughts on the Edwards story.
Should Unai Emery be on Liverpool’s shortlist to replace Jurgen Klopp?
“I’m surprised it got out a little bit – that the story has come out.
“I think it shows Liverpool’s approach isn’t going to change. I don’t think Jürgen’s departure means, ‘Right we’re going to go down the Chelsea/Todd Boehly route.’
“It won’t be too far away from the approach that they’ve had in terms of the type of players they target, the way that they work. The idea of the way the club is structured I think will be pretty similar.
“I think it’s reasonable to expect that Liverpool will have a new sporting director by the end of the season, definitely. And if not, then you would be a bit worried.
[On the next manager]
“We don’t know who the next manager’s going to be. I have a leaning that I think it’ll probably be Alonso, but that’s all it is.
“You don’t know how he’s going to work with a new sporting director. You don’t know how the new sporting director is going to want to work with Mike Gordon or whoever else, so there’s a lot of ‘up in the airs’ at this moment in time about Liverpool’s strategy off the pitch.
“The perfect solution isn’t out there for Liverpool, no matter what. There’s no silver bullet that you go, ‘Nailed it.’ Anyone they bring in – whether they’re the most experienced manager in the world or an Alonso, someone like that – there’ll be pros and cons to it.”
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Mike Gordon and his colleagues in Boston have got a job on their hands. The next few months will be vital in ensuring the future success of LFC and being able to build on the superb foundation left by Jürgen Klopp. It is understandable that the FSG top brass approached Michael Edwards, given his contribution in transforming the club from Premier League also-rans to one of Europe’s richest and best sides.
Edwards certainly has the credentials and track record to make a suitable sporting director, but it is perhaps a surprise that he was approached less than two years after leaving the position. There may be some minor embarrassment that the offer has reached the public domain, but the role remains one of the most attractive in world football and should appeal to a variety of quality candidates. The squad does not require major surgery following last summer’s successful transfer window, but with contract negotiations for three of Liverpool’s biggest stars pending, the sooner the right person for the job is found, the better.