Frenchman seeks more bang for Henry's buck

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The Independent Online

For all the coaching traditionalists who abhor the idea of someone calling the football shots from the boardroom, posterity has assigned Damien Comolli some credibility now that Harry Redknapp is achieving so much with a side containing players signed during the Frenchman's three-year stint at White Hart Lane.

A mantra during that period at Spurs was that anyone signed must have top-four potential. In a sense Comolli's job at Liverpool, desperate for that status again, is remarkably similar.

One of the key tasks set down for Comolli is to improve Liverpool's work in the transfer market. They do not have huge amounts of money – probably less than Spurs – and the new director of football strategy must deliver more bang for John W Henry's buck. The club have squandered sums on men who are either paid too much (Maxi Rodriguez) or are too old to have resale potential (Christian Poulsen, Paul Konchesky).

Comolli will seek to change that through an improved scouting network, witness yesterday's announcement that Spurs' French scout Steve Hitchen is moving to Liverpool. He will also be looking at metrics, which fascinates Henry, principally to help Liverpool to look for undervalued players in places where other clubs are not.

The new frontier in metrics has little to do with the transfer market, though. It applies the use of data to help coaches establish precisely when a player might be about to break down and need one, two or three games out. This area interests Comolli, too.

Developing Liverpool's Kirkby academy, led by Frank McParland and Pep Segura, is another major challenge. Over the past10 years, only three of its products – Stephen Warnock, Danny Guthrie and Stephen Wright – have played more than 40 Premier League games for anyone. There are doubts about some of the current great hopes – the Spanish striker Daniel Pacheco is inconsistent – though Comolli is understood to have been impressed by what he has found at Kirkby, where there are some real English prospects.

Comolli must also find academy recruits that others have missed, and under scrutiny at Anfield nothing like with Tottenham. Liverpool are a vastly bigger club and overall, Comolli's task there makes that Spurs job look like a picnic.

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