The whiplash Liverpool fans are experiencing on nearly a weekly basis this season has been due as much to events off the pitch as to their up-and-down form on it.
Case in point was the bombshell that Julian Ward will be stepping down from the Sporting Director role next summer only a year on from taking the job. It has also raised even more questions amid an already tumultuous time for Liverpool in which the owners, Fenway Sports Group appear open to selling the club after 12 years at the helm.
Ward had appeared to have gotten off to a decent start after taking over from Michael Edwards’ at the end of last season. The former Manchester City employee led negotiations in the Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez transfers, with decisive maneuvering reported to have helped his team beat out the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United for the in-demand transfer targets. Bringing in young talents such as Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay, while also securing Sadio Mane’s exit to Bayern Munich provided more evidence that the 41-year-old appeared to building some momentum.
However, with his now imminent departure, The Times’ Paul Joyce has added more detail to this latest twist in the tale, reporting that it was in fact Jurgen Klopp and his backroom staff who had pushed for the Diaz and Nunez signings. The manager in particular was said to have “fallen in love” in the Uruguayan striker after playing his Benfica side twice in the Champions League.
Close followers of Liverpool will know that identifying targets had largely been under the purview of Michael Edwards’ team in his time at Anfield, potentially signifying that a shift in responsibilities had occurred following Ward’s takeover
Joyce goes on to mention that these are not the only massive changes afoot. FSG are now said to be evaluating whether their infamous Moneyball approach, in which the club only spends what it earns and searches out talent before they become stars, is still the best model in an increasingly competitive market for players. Any major shifts in this high-level strategy could have played a part in what appears to be increasing turnover of key personnel.
There are, however, too many moving parts at this juncture for any prediction of where things go from here to rise to any level above pure speculation. Reds supporters will just have to wait and see in the hope that the club will come out of the other side of this period of change stronger than before.