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Sterling Faces Argentina, Sammy Lee Leaves, and other Thursday Notes

sammy lee liverpool player coach

After a day spent trying to calm nerves frayed by the transfer season to varying degrees of success, it's back to the offseason grind of news drip-fed into maws eager for something tangible to hold onto as summer drags along. This, then, is all the Liverpool news that's fit to drip today...

* After making his debut with Liverpool in 1976, Sammy Lee would go on to become a key player in midfield for the next decade, playing an important role in European Cup and league triumphs before eventually being pushed out by injuries and Jan Mølby in 1986. That would be followed by a nomadic twilight to his playing career, a time when he traveled from QPR to Osasuna to Norwich and, finally, to Bolton, where he would make 17 appearances in the 90-91 season before retiring. Afterwards he would return to Liverpool for the first time as a member of Gaeme Souness' coaching staff, remaining at the club for most of another decade before joining the England staff under Eriksson. Eventually he would work his way back to Bolton as assistant manager to Sam Allardyce in 2005.

He would return to Liverpool a second time in 2008 when Rafa Benitez was in search of a number two after a fall out with long-time assistant Pako Ayestarán. Lee had taken over as manager at Bolton the year before, but his attempts to get the team playing a more attacking brand of football after Allardyce's departure had ended in failure, and after registering just one win in eleven games as manager he found himself let go.

Back at Liverpool, he managed to survive the dismissal of first Benitez and then Roy Hodgson, acting as assistant under three managers in his third spell at the club he'd spent most of his life either playing for or coaching at. Now, one more time, he's moving on, having been found surplus to requirements in the current set-up.

It's unclear what happens next for Lee, but it's a move that was always in the cards when you consider that since arriving with Dalglish it has been Steve Clarke who, despite technically being first team coach and below Lee in the pecking order, could constantly be seen discussing tactics with Dalglish. It was also Clarke who was primarily involved in talking to the press and official club outlets about players, tactics, and expectations. Even if his job title wasn't officially assistant manager, it was clear to most that it was Clarke and not Lee who was Dalglish's second in command. And so Lee moves on from Liverpool for the third time. For all he's done for the club across three decades, he deserves to find success wherever it is that he might end up.

* It seems as though there's a new youth tournament every day this summer—u21 Euros, u17 World Cup, u19 Euros. And now the u20 World Cup. Which still leaves a u18 something or other you never knew existed to take place before the summer's out.

In any case, for those keeping an eye on Liverpool's prospects, Jack Robinson and Andre Wisdom will head to Colombia towards the end of July to kick off group action against Argentina, Mexico, and North Korea in the aforementioned u20 World Cup.1

Stewart Pearce isn't involved in the England set up, so there's a chance they'll actually try to play football like the u17 side. Then again, they could also play an even more dull, less attractive, and less effective brand than their older siblings. Of more immediate concern when it comes to Liverpool's prospects, though, is that Raheem Sterling, Brad Smith, and the rest of the u17s start their knock-out round action today against Argentina at 9PM GMT/4PM EST. As usual, we'll be burbling about it on Twitter in case anything interesting happens.

* Meanwhile The Tomkins Times goes big to deal with the "tetchiness creeping into the fanbase" as transfer season rolls along and people start crying that everything's a mess and nothing's going right and somebody must be to blame. As for who the most likely somebody is, Tomkins suspects some people have found their new Rafa:

Perhaps Comolli is the easiest to blame when fans start to see things they don’t agree with. He’s young, French, never played professional football, and occupies a position that is greatly mistrusted in the English game. Directors of Football, and others who work primarily behind the scenes, are easy to write off, and dismiss as offering nothing; you can’t see what they do, so it doesn’t exist.

At Spurs, Comolli was widely derided, and yet if you look at his player recruitment record, it’s actually very impressive.

It's a massive piece that digs into Comolli's philosophies, both as stated and as part of the historical record with Spurs, as well as taking a good look at the attempts to revolutionise football scouting and player measurement using statistics in a way that many still view with extreme skepticism. And of course, since FSG are involved, there's time spent on the Moneyball aspect, though one key pull is important for those who view it as strictly a method for seeking out future value on the cheap:

One of the most commonly overlooked concepts of the Moneyball principle is that you overpay to plug gaps. Perhaps the best example of someone failing to do this is Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Having built an exciting, vibrant team that looked capable of challenging for the title last season, the good work appeared to be undermined by the lack of an experienced, established goalkeeper. Such a clever exponent of finding cheap young talent (once with Comolli’s assistance), Wenger did not appear to do enough to adequately fill arguably the most important position in any side. Even if Arsenal had to pay £10m over the market price, it’s possible that the rewards would have been far greater.

Now go read the rest. If you get started now you might be done by Monday.

We'll be back later on with a run-down of the forthcoming Copa America, this summer's most likely source of high quality football with Liverpool connections. In the meantime, have some more Sammy Lee...

1A late u20 World Cup note from just after this went up is that Dani Pacheco has been included in the Spain squad. It may not be clear where he'll be playing his football next season, but for now he'll be in Columbia as Spain trys to win yet another national competition.

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