Damien Comolli vulnerable as blame game begins for Liverpool

Each poor performance is followed by questions about Comolli's role, as if he is Anfield's wandering minstrel doing nothing much in particular.

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Damien Comolli vulnerable as blame game begins for Liverpool


Springtime is traditionally scapegoat hunting season at Anfield. The premature post mortem into the league campaign begins, and if criticising a popular manager is too hard to stomach, there is usually an array of boardroom executives, owners or Liverpool players who are more convenient targets.

Nowadays, there is an even more vulnerable object of the fans' ire: the director of football. For those with no appetite to question the signings of Kenny Dalglish, shifting attention to Damien Comolli — a man with no historic or emotional ties to the Kop — is less provocative.

Each poor performance is followed by questions about his role, as if he is Anfield's wandering minstrel doing nothing much in particular. In fact, the definition of Comolli 's position is clear. When Dalglish identifies a player he wants to sign, Comolli starts the negotiations to complete the deal.

That is how it worked last summer, as all those purchased were self-evidently Dalglish's choices. If player contracts need extending, Comolli takes care of this. He has basically absorbed many responsibilities once associated with the chief executive.

There is now a distinction between the corporate and sporting aspects of how Liverpool is run, so you will not find anyone trying to agree a fee for a player one minute while trying to organise the ticket office the next.

Comolli is also entrusted with finding talent and bringing it to Dalglish's attention.

There is a difference between a recommendation and a demand he sign someone. As yet, there is no player recruited under the new regime who the manager did not want. That will remain the case, since no manager can be expected to use players he does not especially rate. Equally, there will be an expectation this summer that Comolli shows evidence of the contacts and ability to spot a bargain that convinced Fenway Sports Group to make him their first appointment.

Dalglish will anticipate his scouting department will supply a series of attainable names that will have him purring with excitement. This is where pressure on Comolli will justifiably intensify. Comolli believes his track record at Arsenal and Spurs demonstrates his ability to unearth talent. It must be said, there are those at both north London clubs who believe his contribution was significantly overplayed.

We are left to reach conclusions depending on the strength of each briefing, as in football credit is never apportioned fairly if it is a threat to one's own self-interest. If Comolli was the greatest talent spotter since Brian Epstein, his former clubs probably would not admit it, but it does not mean they are wrong in their mischievous whispers that FSG was sold a pup.

What is not disputed is Comolli oversaw many of the deals at White Hart Lane for players who have excelled since he left, but it needed the appointment of Harry Redknapp to get the best from them.

Liverpool's form since their Carling Cup win triggers an alarming sense of deja vu for Comolli. In February 2008, Juande Ramos's Spurs side beat Chelsea in the League Cup final. Of the subsequent 20 Premier League games, Spurs won just three, leading to the dismissal of Ramos, his assistant Gus Poyet and Comolli himself. After recommending Ramos's appointment, Comolli had been warned he would be held accountable for failure.

Of the five Premier League games Liverpool have played since beating Cardiff, they have lost four. They head to Newcastle tomorrow, a club who have benefited from the French market you would expect Comolli to know best.

While there are those who will seek to drive a wedge between the director and the manager as sides are taken in the blame game, the fate of Comolli and Dalglish is united by a single factor which will decide their futures. They must identify and sign better players.

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