- Liverpool FC’s Sporting Director announces his exit from the club
- Michael Edwards departure from the club comes after being associated with it for 10 years
- Edwards made the move of the likes of Mohamed Salad and Virgil van Dijk to the Reds
Sporting Director at the Liverpool Football Club will be parting ways at the end of the season and his exit could have a huge impact at the Anfield.
Is this the end of an era at Liverpool?
Michael Edwards will be departing after his 10-year long association with the Reds at the end of the season, in summer, when he will be stepping down from the role of Sporting Director at the club.
It is a big news in the football world, though, to some, it does not come as a big surprise. Rumours of Edwards’ departure had first surfaced a few months back, but on Wednesday afternoon there it was in black and white (and Eed) on Liverpool’s official website, a lengthy “open letter” from the man himself explaining the reasons behind his decision.
Edwards wrote, “I’ve loved working here, but I’m a big believer in change,” who is not known for his public speaking, however, was still able to serve up a few juicy titbits in his goodbye missive.
For example, he revealed that he had know “for a couple of years” that his time at Anfield was coming to an end. He poked fun at his “stats man” reputation, spoke glowingly about Jurgen Klopp and Mike Gordon, among others, and showed a lighter side when asked to disclose his favourite player.
He wrote, “All I can say is my dog is called Bobby”.
No doubt that Edwards will be leaving Liverpool as a hero, as one of the chief architects of the club’s recent success. Together with Klopp and Gordon, and through a potent mix of hard work, personality, skill, courage and impeccable judgement, he helped transform the Reds from a sleeping giant into a team that would go on to become “Champions of Everything” in 2020.
Michael Edwards’ open letter to Liverpool supporters:— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 10, 2021
Klopp said, “He has been a constant presence during my period at LFC,” and added, “His contribution to our success is clear for everyone to see.”
Liverpool’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, got this bit right. Edwards will be remembered as one of the Premier League’s greatest sporting directors, one who helped change the perception of a role that has traditionally been viewed with suspicion in English football.
Gordon said, “Michael’s contribution and achievements will stand the test of time”.
Gordon made repeated efforts to convince Edwards to extend his contract.
He said, “He helped to rebuild and shape the club into what we see today.”
Edward arrived at Liverpool 10 years ago, in 2011, and was initially working as the head of analytics before he eventually progressed to the role of the sporting director – the first in the club’s history – in November 2016.
By then, he had already earned a reputation as a shrewd and ruthless operator in the transfer market, and that has been clear for all to see in the five years since, as Liverpool have gone from strength to strength.
Though Roberto Firmino might be his favourite, however, Edwards’ transfer triumphs are plentiful. It was he who signed off on the deal to sign Mohamed Salah from Roma in 2017, and it was he who managed to close the transformative, big-money captures of Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Fabinho the following year. It was on his watch the star player Andy Robertson was signed, as were Sadio Mane and Gini Wijnaldum, players who were not ‘obvious’ buys but went on to be not just Premier League champions on Merseyside but also European, World champions.
Mohamed Salah – £36m— GOAL (@goal) November 10, 2021
Virgil van Dijk- £75m
Roberto Firmino – £29m
Joe Gomez – £3m
Sadio Mane – £30m
Georginio Wijnaldum – £25m
Joel Matip – Free
Andy Robertson – £8m
Alisson – £65m
Fabinho – £39m
Diogo Jota – £45m
Some of the business Michael Edwards has done at Liverpool ? pic.twitter.com/42xmerUemL
Edwards was not just good at spending money and buying talent, he sold well as well. Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona effectively paid for the purchases of Van Dijk and Alisson, while the Reds were able to secure hefty fees for unwanted players like Jordon Ibe, Mamadou Sakho, Danny Ings, Danny Ward, Dominic Solanke, Rhian Brewster and Harry Wilson.
Julian Ward has some big shoes to fill who will be stepping up from the post of Assistant SportinG Director when Edwards leaves the club.
Ward, 40, is highly respected, and has a good relationship with both Klopp and Gordon, having himself been with the club for over 9 years now, having joined the Reds in 2012.
Ward and Edwards have been good friends and part of a close-knit ‘football operations’ team which includes the head of recruitment Dave Fallows, chief scout Barry Hunter, head of loan pathways and football partnerships David Woodfine and the club’s much-lauded research team, led by Ian Graham.
Edwards called them “Geniuses”.
He and Ward are particularly close – they spent Wednesday together at the Sports Performance Summit at Twickenham, for example – and Liverpool hope the transition next summer will be a seamless one.
However, there is still important business which needs to be taken care of before he leaves. Salah’s contract situation must be sorted.
Not just that, the likes of Mane, Firmino and Naby Keita are all into their last 18 months as well.
Liverpool needs a midfielder as well as a forward, while Ward is aware that looming large on the horizon is the fact that come to the end of the season, Klopp will have only two years left on his own contract.
People wonder what impact will Steven Gerrard’s move to Aston Villa have on this particular situation? Given, he and Ward, intriguingly, share an excellent relationship.
Ward is very smart, smart enough to know what awaits him, and experienced enough to handle it. He is extremely well-regarded within the football world, particularly among agents and executives, having worked with the Portuguese national team and at Manchester City before joining the Reds.
Similar to Edwards, his fingerprints, too, are all over the Reds’ off-field improvement over the past decade. It was he who transformed the club’s loan system, enabling them to boost the value of players such as Brewster, Marko Grujic, Wilson, and Taiwo Awoniyi.
Having said this, his short-term moves, and his contacts in Portugal and South America, in particular, have been more than useful when pursuing new signings.
Ward, for example, played a big role in the captures of Firmino, Fabinho and Diogo Jota.
On Wednesday, Gordon said, “I have no doubt that Julian is more than absolutely ready for the new responsibilities that he will take on.” While Klopp added that he has “complete trust” in Liverpool’s owners’ vision for what comes next.
Edwards was left to reflect on what had gone before as he wrote, “To be part of the club during this period has been a privilege, but all good things must come to an end.”