Tuesday 24 April 2018

Comolli cut down to size by Redknapp's sarcastic jibes

Sam Wallace

Harry Redknapp needed no second invitation yesterday to criticise the record of Liverpool's new director of football strategy Damien Comolli, the former Tottenham Hotspur man whose squad Redknapp inherited two years earlier with the club bottom of the Premier League.

In his first six months at the club, Redknapp often bemoaned the state of a squad that he would describe as a "mish-mash" and imbalanced after more than three years under Comolli's control.

Should Redknapp venture into the directors' lounge at White Hart Lane tomorrow ahead of Spurs' game against Liverpool he will have a good chance of bumping into the architect of that squad.

Yesterday it was with heavy sarcasm that Redknapp responded to the suggestion that Comolli should be given some credit for the signings he brought in from September 2005 until October 2008 when he was sacked and Redknapp installed.


"Yeah, I think he should take all the credit, for sure," Redknapp said. "They were all doing well when I arrived, you know? They were all good; they were all great. There have been a few, again, that weren't so great. There were some quality players here.

He brought an awful lot of players in; a lot have gone. A lot are still here that were good. There's some talent here, for sure."

Comolli brought around 30 players to the club with mixed results and little accountability until the wheels came off in 2008. His era included the signings of a range of players from Gareth Bale to Tomas Pekhart, and with the subsequent success of the likes of Bale and Luka Modric there have been moves recently to re-evaluate Comolli's contribution to Spurs in a more favourable light.

However, for all the credit he might claim for the likes of Bale, Dimitar Berbatov, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Heurelho Gomes and Younes Kaboul there remains a good deal of scepticism at the club itself.

Privately it is pointed out that Bale, for instance, was hardly a secret at Southampton and that it was in fact chairman Daniel Levy who was the prime mover behind many of the key deals.

What does frustrate many football figures about Comolli is his willingness to talk up his own track record, especially during his time as a scout at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger was withering about claims that Comolli discovered Thierry Henry at Monaco.

"He (Comolli) was a scout here," Wenger said on Thursday.

"He was not director of football. He worked under (Arsenal chief scout) Steve Rowley. Only one person decides who comes in here and that is me.

"I gave Henry a start at (the age of) 17 (when Wenger was Monaco boss)."

Rowley has credited Comolli with the discovery of Gael Clichy but no other player during his time at Arsenal. Nevertheless, he has been handed a similarly influential job at Liverpool.

Given that Redknapp was once a director of football himself at Portsmouth 10 years ago, working with the then-manager Graham Rix whom he eventually succeeded, he remains staunchly opposed to the practice in English clubs.

"It's hard. It happens on the continent and some managers work that way.

"They're happy to have a job and they get on and do what's asked of them, and what they're told, basically. But it wouldn't be for me," he said.

"I don't know what the rules are (at Liverpool). Roy (Hodgson) is a strong character. He's obviously got good knowledge, Damien. He knows the French scene especially. In fact, we just lost our French scout, who is excellent. He's gone to Liverpool. That was Steve Hitchen. We liked him a lot."

Tottenham v Liverpool,

Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 1, 4.0

Irish Independent

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