On the one hand, the idea of any club being in crisis in the middle of a World Cup seems utterly ludicrous. A wealth of players have disappeared over to Qatar to help to sports-wash the country’s appalling human rights record and atrocious approach to the LGBTQ+ community. That is the case not just from Liverpool, but from the majority of Premier League clubs. The problem is, it isn’t just the players that represent a football club. There are all sorts of different people working behind the scenes that make teams work, which is the same at Anfield as it is anywhere else. For some time now, it seems as though there are problems behind-the-scenes that we haven’t really noticed. As Jürgen Klopp and his players made things seem calm and normal, what was taking place out of the glare of the public was akin to a swan’s legs, peddling furiously to allow it to move forward. It is noteworthy, for example, that we’ve only just brought a club doctor in.
🚨 NEW: Liverpool have appointed Jonathan Power as their new club doctor and he will join the first team on their training camp in Dubai next month. [paul joyce – times]
Power, who hails from West Derby in Liverpool, previously worked with the Football Association ❤️YNWA ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/sjR6RGNl9I
— Sarah🦋💫❤️YNWA❤️💙🌊🌊💙 (@JATTSOPRANO316) November 27, 2022
Whilst that’s certainly good news, the club being without a doctor for the majority of the season so far isn’t particularly clever work considering how well-respected what we’ve been doing has been for years. It obviously isn’t as though the players have been heading to A&E every time they’ve had an injury, with plenty of people at the AXA Training Centre qualified to deal with medical issues, it isn’t a great look that a side that has picked up its fair share of injuries hasn’t had a main doctor to plan recoveries and the like. It is, I would suggest, quietly emblematic of the issues that the Reds have been suffering behind-the-scenes for some time now. It is not great that it has taken us until November in the most truncated season ever to be played to hire a club doctor. Taking that alone, you could easily decide that it doesn’t mean much of anything. But when you put it together with other factors, it isn’t unreasonable to feel that all is not well in the state of Anfield.
Julian Ward’s Departure Is Interesting
Before the Brendan Rodgers era at Anfield, few people will have spent much time thinking about who it is that is responsible for transfers. The famed ‘committee’ that hit the headlines back in 2015 suddenly made us all aware of the fact that there was a team of people that deal with signings and sales. The hatchet job article on the ‘new breed’ of men that ‘sits in air-conditioned offices’ drew attention to Michael Edwards and his ‘vast team of analysts’, sneeringly suggesting that stats such as ‘goal expectancy’ and ‘chances created’ were of no use to ‘old-school managers’. When Rodgers departed the club and Jürgen Klopp came in, the committee suddenly had no need ‘to explain how they came up with the figure of £29million to sign Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim’. Rather than leak to close friends in the press about him, the German got him firing and made him an integral part of his team to such an extent that we still need him seven years later.
Hearing lots of contradicting reports regarding Liverpool FC recruiting players in the summer . Julian Ward leaving isn’t a great sign …but I hope FSG cement their legacy before handing over. They will get the money back ten-fold , they have the money , they must have #LFC #fsg
— Jamie & the Magic Torch (@magonia_nights) November 27, 2022
When it was announced that Michael Edwards would be stepping down from his role as Sporting Director in June of this year, we were assured that it would be service as usual thanks to the presence of Julian Ward. Last week, it was suddenly confirmed that Ward will step down from the role next summer. Rather than the same sort of messages of continuity, we are being told of the surprise being felt by the highers-up at the club, as well as this being seen as an opportunity to re-jig how the entire system works. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Director of Research, Ian Graham, is also looking to move aware from his role and take a break from football. Of course, correlation doesn’t equal causation and it is entirely possible that it is all just one big coincidence, but it is fair to say that it doesn’t inspire confidence that things are going smoothly for the Reds off the pitch at a time when we’ve also been struggling to put any sort of form together on it.
The Sale Causes Natural Uncertainty
Whilst there are any number of machinations taking place as Fenway Sports Group reportedly actively look for buyers, there is no question that such a move will be causing uncertainly off the pitch. In theory, the players shouldn’t care who takes over, but in practice it stands to reason that they’ll all have their own concerns. The manager, too, will be wondering what is coming down the line for him and his team, perhaps concerned about any disruption that will take place. It isn’t just that there are going to be new people making the decisions, but also that there might well be protests and disruption depending on who those new people are likely to be. I, for one, will not accept Liverpool being used as a sports-washing enterprise by a country with an appalling human rights record and a backwards stance on LGBTQ+ rights. That is why I haven’t watched a minute of the World Cup and I’m fairly certain I’m not on my own when it comes to my stance on both things.
Understanding on links between #LFC & Qatar is potential investors are only in the thought process. Very early and exploratory stages. QSI not involved in any capacity (even in a supportive role). Their focus is on PSG and potentially bringing in a new minority investor in 2023.
— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) November 27, 2022
Jürgen Klopp knows the importance of harmony between what is taking place on the pitch and what is happening off it, to say nothing of his own personal moral compass, so I don’t imagine he’s all that excited about the possible new owners. At the same time, Mike Gordon taking a step back in order to help with the sale can’t be seen as good news. He has reportedly developed a good relationship with the manager over the years, so him being less involved in the day-to-day running of the club worries me. One of these things alone might not be a cause for concern, but all of them together is suggestive of things not working as well as they should behind-the-scenes at Liverpool. Of course, we won’t know if things are good or bad until further down the line, but right now it is easy to see how the Reds could be considered to be a club in crisis.