Suarez, FSG and Liverpool: The Behind-The-Scenes Tale
In the corridors of power at Liverpool FC, few stories remain untold. Yet, recently one of the unsung figures of the club’s recent past, Damien Comolli, has shed light on his tenure, revealing just how close the club came to missing out on the talismanic Luis Suarez.
The Comolli Chapter
It’s no secret that Liverpool’s backrooms have seen their share of drama over the years. One of the pivotal characters in this saga? Damien Comolli, the man who donned the title of Liverpool’s director of football strategy in November 2010 and took over as director of football just two years later.
However, Comolli’s time with the Reds came to an abrupt end in April 2013, mere days before a crucial FA Cup semi-final clash with local rivals Everton. The club’s subpar summer signings were widely regarded as the reason for his premature departure.
Key Signings and Contentious Decisions
It wasn’t all rough seas for Comolli during his time at Anfield. He played an instrumental role in ensuring Suarez donned the famous red jersey – a signing that has since become iconic in Liverpool’s history. The Uruguayan’s addition came alongside the contentious acquisition of Andy Carroll, following the departure of fan-favourite Fernando Torres to Chelsea.
Comolli’s fingerprints were also evident during the summer transfer window of 2011. Players like Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Jose Enrique and Sebastian Coates all made their way to Merseyside under his watch.
Reflections from Anfield’s Old Guard
Comolli, now thriving as the director of football at Toulouse, is set to make a return to Anfield with his French team in the upcoming Europa League match. Ahead of the fixture, he took a moment to reminisce about his time with Liverpool.
A particularly poignant revelation was how he had to persuade the top brass at Fenway Sports Group (FSG) to bring in Suarez, a decision that would later prove transformative for the club.
Speaking candidly to The Telegraph, Comolli mentioned, “You have to remind people you are doing a good job, and you need to manage up. You need to constantly sell your project and keep the ownership on board. I was useless at it.”
The weight of such admissions is palpable, especially when you consider the stature of the decisions at play. Comolli continued, “I had to convince John Henry [FSG principal owner] to lend money to buy Luis Suarez. We were skint. We won the first trophy since 2006, and I got fired.”
Comolli’s frank assessment of his communication skills with the upper echelons of FSG further emphasises the nuances of football management off the pitch: “If I was good at communicating up and outwards, I don’t know if I would still be in a job, [but] I would have been in a different situation.”
Football, for all its on-pitch magic, is as much a game of decisions made behind closed doors. The Suarez chapter at Liverpool might have been vastly different, but for the conviction of figures like Comolli.