Liverpool are to announce the creation of a “technical committee” of “football people” in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the transfer deadline day debacle that led to the club allowing Andy Carroll to go out on loan without a replacement striker being signed.
The committee will advise manager Brendan Rodgers but will also, interestingly, take on a much wider role as to how Liverpool is run, the type of football the club will play and all the 'technical’ aspects that are sometimes taken by a director of football.
Although Rodgers, as part of his negotiations to take over at Anfield, insisted he would not work directly for a director of football, despite Liverpool sounding out several candidates, including former Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, the club has not ruled out eventually making the appointment.
However, the likelihood is that it will soon reveal the identity of a number of people who will form a committee of advisers, some of whom are already acting as sounding-boards, for Liverpool’s owners John W Henry and Tom Werner.
The Americans are fully committed to adopting a “European-style model” of running the club and do not want to follow the typical British approach of a manager having top-to-bottom control of the club believing it is unsustainable and costly. The owners admire the approach taken by West Bromwich Albion. The club’s sporting and technical director Dan Ashworth, who is now wanted by the Football Association, was linked to a move to Liverpool in the summer.
Liverpool also point out that the wealthiest club in the Premier League, Manchester City, do not allow manager Roberto Mancini full control of transfers with Brian Marwood, the football administrator, playing a key role on behalf of the owners.
Liverpool’s owners will be careful not to cause tension with Rodgers who has made it clear that he will not tolerate interference in first-team matters although, crucially, the manager will be expected to discuss his targets with the technical committee who may also make their own recommendations on which players are pursued. Such an approach may set alarm bells ringing, given the inherent possibility that the manager might feel interference which could lead to conflict.
There were clear problems last week when Rodgers’ attempts to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham were vetoed because Liverpool’s owners did not believe the deal – the American was valued at £6m – was value for money for a 29-year-old with only one year left on his contract. Although Liverpool insist they offered more than the £3m that Fulham sources have indicated was bid, they did not match the asking price and Dempsey eventually left for Tottenham Hotspur instead.
Liverpool had also proposed a swap deal with Jordan Henderson moving to Craven Cottage in return for Dempsey and although Fulham were interested, the 22-year-old England midfielder, who was signed for £16m last summer in a spending spree which Liverpool are still paying a heavy price for, did not agree to the deal and it collapsed.
The failure to agree a deal for Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge – Liverpool and Rodgers only wanted to loan the striker while Chelsea wanted a permanent transfer – meant that with Carroll going to West Ham United on loan on the Thursday night, Rodgers was left with just two senior strikers and one of those is 21-year-old Fabio Borini who is yet to score a goal in the Premier League.
There was also some discussion as to whether Liverpool could sign the Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao from Internacional but they could not reach an agreement and ran out of time for that deal.
Rodgers has already expressed his annoyance to the Liverpool hierarchy and spoke of how “operational issues” had to improve and is now casting around the 'free agent’ market to see if he can sign an emergency replacement until the January transfer window opens. Liverpool will be able to recall Carroll then but do not want to do so with Rodgers having made it evident that the £35m striker, who is out for six weeks with a hamstring tear suffered on his West Ham debut, does not figure in his plans.
There is irritation at Liverpool that so much attention - and criticism - has focused on their failure to replace Carroll with the club insisting that disagreements over the valuation of a player between executives and a manager - such as happened with Dempsey - are commonplace.
The focus on Liverpool’s failure to sign a striker fell on the club’s managing director Ian Ayre whose role has been under scrutiny for some time. There have been suggestions that Liverpool’s owners were considering returning Ayre to his former post of commercial director, where he successfully revamped the club’s activities, and bring in a more high-powered chief executive.
Although the rumours, from informed sources, persist that Ayre will be replaced - he also came under scrutiny during the summer when the owners sacked manager Kenny Dalglish and director of football Damien Comolli – Liverpool insist there are no plans for a change to be made.
However, the club have confirmed that the technical committee is close to being formed with, intriguingly, some of its members already in place and others working their notice. At least one prospective member is thought to work for another club.
Liverpool, at present, are keeping the identities a closely guarded secret amid suggestions – again denied – that Henry has used the likes of former Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff to canvas opinion.
The expected structure is along the lines of proposals divulged when Rodgers was appointed in the summer by Ayre. Then he said that Liverpool were still keen to develop along the “more continental director of football-type structure, a collaborative group working around the football area”.
A key component will be the appointed of a chief scout, with more responsibility than that role usually suggests, and an experienced football administrator who can negotiate transfers and contracts. Interestingly there will also be a senior figure – likely to be a former player or manager although not one necessarily previously connected with Liverpool – who will act as a figurehead for the type of football Liverpool want to play and the philosophy the club want to follow.
The appointments will be closely scrutinized by Liverpool supporters who remain angry over the summer transfer dealings especially as the team have made an indifferent start to the season and do not appear fully equipped to compete for a Champions League place.