Potential Julian Ward Replacements: Paul Mitchell
With the breaking news that Julian Ward is set to step down from his position as Sporting Director at the end of the season, Liverpool were left with three major positions set to be vacant by the end of this campaign. A new club doctor and director of research (Dr Ian Graham also confirmed as leaving) are also set to be replaced according to reports, giving FSG – or any new owners – a lot to tackle. On Anfield Index we’ll start to have a look at who could potentially fit the bill in the future at Anfield.
Paul Mitchell is an an Englishman not to well-known to your average football fan, but well respected amongst Europe’s elite clubs. The 41 year-old enjoyed a modest playing career, starting with Wigan Athletic and ending in the lower leagues with Barnet. It’s in the boardroom where the Stalybridge-born Sporting Director has enjoyed notable success, taking him from the lower domestic leagues to the domestic top flight and into major teams on the continent. Few if any Reds will have heard of Mitchell, but his work and reputation means he’ll be well known to Jurgen Klopp and others.
It’s understood that Mitchell may have been in attendance at Liverpool’s last game before the World Cup against Southampton and whilst the potential reasons can be guessed, it will only fuel any rumour mill that exists. At a time that the club seems set to search for their third Sporting Director in an 18 month period, any links outside of a Micheal Edwards Lazarus-type return will be pounced upon. His history and accomplishments make for interesting reading too.
Following Mauricio Pochettino to Spurs back in 2014, Mitchell was seen as instrumental in the signings of players such as Keiran Trippier, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min, a player Klopp confirmed recently he regrets not signing. Linking to clubs and players the manager is a fan of, 2018 saw him named as head of recruitment at RB Leipzig. Mattheus Cunha and Nordi Mukiele are amongst the notable players recruited under his stewardship. Klopp’s feelings on the Red Bull model and playing style are well known, with him describing it in pre-season as a “really interesting project”.
Fast forward to recent years and his work at Monaco has only heightened an already stellar reputation. A structured model based on signing high-energy players and becoming one of the fittest sides in Europe, Mitchell has already been courted by the likes of Manchester United, according to the Bundesliga expert Florian Pletterburg. An expert handling of the Aurelien Tchouameni transfer saga won’t have necessarily endeared him to Liverpool and Klopp, but will have been noted. A CV, history and profile that matches the club, don’t be surprised if an appearance in the main stand does become a regular occurrence.