Comolli leaves Liverpool to end 16-month stint
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) -- Liverpool released director of football Damien Comolli on Thursday following widespread criticism of his transfer strategy since being hired by the Premier League club's American owners 16 months ago.
Liverpool has spent 115 million pounds ($183 million) on players since Comolli joined in November 2010 from French club Saint-Etienne, but expensive recruits Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing are among those who have failed to impress.
"We have a strategy we need implemented and we felt Damien was probably not the right person to implement that strategy,'' Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said.
The club's head of sports science and medicine, Australian Peter Brukner, also left the club on Thursday but manager Kenny Dalglish has been assured his job is safe, even though the Scot said he - not Comolli - has had the final say on the club's signings since joining Liverpool for a second spell in charge in January 2011.
"We've got great confidence in Kenny,'' Werner said. "We feel the team is going to make strides in the future and he enjoys our full support.''
Liverpool, one of England's most successful clubs with 18 league titles, won the League Cup earlier this season and plays local rival Everton in the FA Cup semifinals on Saturday.
But the Reds are eighth in the Premier League standings with five matches remaining, and have won only three league matches out of 14 since the start of the year.
"I think it's fair to say no supporter would be delighted with the results we've achieved this year,'' Werner said. "When it's time to act, we need to act. We're coming close to the end of the season and the transfer window for the summer, and we felt it was important to make this change expeditiously.''
Recruited by Liverpool a month after the club's 300 million pound (then $476 million) takeover by Fenway Sports Group, Comolli is believed to have played a big role in signing Carroll for a club-record 35 million pounds (then $56 million) in January 2011 despite the striker having played just one season in the English top flight.
Carroll has scored only nine goals for Liverpool in all competitions since moving to Anfield. Henderson and Downing, who are believed to have cost about 20 million pounds (then $33 million) each as Liverpool largely targeted British players, have also struggled to keep first-team places at the club
Comolli previously worked for Tottenham as sporting director before departing when coach Juande Ramos was fired in 2008. He was hailed for bringing Gareth Bale and Luka Modric to Spurs but had a strained relationship with Martin Jol, the manager at the time.
With Liverpool's chances of finishing in the Premier League's top four - its owners' stated goal - over, Comolli appears to have paid the price.
"I had a fantastic working and personal relationship with Damien and it is disappointing, but I suppose there is not much in football which comes as a surprise,'' Dalglish said.
Werner said Comolli's position will be filled.
"We're still confident the structure we've discussed is the right structure. That doesn't mean we won't look at tweaking it, but we feel a collective group of people making football decisions is healthy,'' he said.
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