Michael Edwards first role on his incredible career path was as part of the video analysis team at Portsmouth in 2003. In 2009, he moved on to Tottenham Hotspur to continue working with Harry Redknapp when Harry became Spurs manager. During his time at Spurs, Edwards struck up a friendship with Ian Graham at Decision Technology, a data firm involved in sports analytics.
Daniel Levy employed the firm and trusted in their analysis together with Michael Edwards’ who Levy subsequently created a role for, as head of performance analysis. Michael worked primarily on opposition analysis and also analysed the performance of the Spurs players. Thus, Levy was understandably shattered when Edwards opted to resign from his role at Spurs after he was head-hunted by Liverpool’s director of football at the time, Damien Comolli.
Michael joined Liverpool in November 2011 as the head of analytics and after taking an in-depth look at how football was analysed at the club, he instigated the restructure of both the Academy and Melwood. He was then promoted to director of technical performance in June 2013, followed by technical director in August 2015 and finally sporting director – the role he has held since November 2016. Michael managed the analysis side for Kenny Dalglish, Brendan Rodgers and of course for Jürgen Klopp. He clashed heavily with Brendan Rodgers over the club’s transfer strategy and was empowered by FSG to make the call on big transfer targets.
Brendan Rodgers of course famously said this upon his arrival as manager at LFC:
For me coming in, I was always going to work with a team of people, rather than a director of football. I always think the manager is the technical director. He is the man who oversees the football development of the club, and I believe you should take on that responsibility when you are manager.
Michael’s data-driven work ethics complimented FSG’S “Moneyball” philosophy of using statistics to find value in the transfer market perfectly and their relationship has only strengthened over time since his arrival at the club in 2011. He was responsible for fundamental changes made to Liverpool’s scouting processes, both at first team and Academy levels while he continued to manage the analysis side for the club and also set up a research department at the club. He worked alongside Ian Ayre in contract negotiations for more than a year prior to his promotion to sporting director, thereafter becoming the lead in those contract talks.
The sporting director role is there to support Klopp with player identification and recruitment while continuing the flow of information to the coaching team. He heads up the team who looks at the strategic direction of the club in footballing terms and was heavily involved in the project which joined the first team and Academy training centres together.
At the time of his appointment as sporting director, Michael had this to say:
I’ve been proud to be part of the football operations structure here at Liverpool and it’s a great honour to be asked to lead it going forward, in this new role of sporting director. We have a brilliant team of people who all make a huge contribution to the process of player transfers and retention, together with recruitment for the senior team, development squad and our Academy. Jürgen’s belief and confidence in what we have done is also welcomed and was a big factor in me making the decision to accept this position. It’s critical that we are always focused on development and improvement across all areas of the football operation. It’s an exciting challenge to be tasked with the responsibility of reviewing our practices and then implementing positive changes as and when they are needed. I know I’ll be supported by a brilliant group of people while doing this.
Klopp was equally excited about the appointment and said:
Michael is absolutely the right person for this. He has the knowledge, expertise and personality to flourish in the role and I was delighted when he told me he would be accepting the position. Importantly, he also has a fantastic team of people around him, who have all played a significant role in putting together the talent we currently have in the first team, development squad and at even younger age levels.
Having been directly involved in the signings of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Fabinho and now Nabil Fekir, it is clear that FSG and Klopp were absolutely right about Michael Edwards.
Next up, could you sign Oblak or Allisson? Please? Thanks Michael, you’re the best!
Up the Reds!