I'm conflicted on a few counts. First and foremost, I don't trust Hodgson with any amount of money – and we can blame Poulsen and Konchesky for that (I'm still not convinced Meireles wasn't a Macia signing). Which makes this news warmly welcomed, especially the if the manager's somehow still around come January. But at the same time, I've never been a fan of the Director of Football continental set-up. Maybe I'm used to the manager being a sometimes-benign dictator, but if he's the one who has to write the team-sheet, shouldn't he be the one picking the transfer targets. And to invoke the oft-cited cliché when the British media discusses this set-up: can you imagine the likes of Ferguson or Wenger operating with under similar constraints?
Granted, the method's worked for the likes of Juventus, Bayern, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and a host of other big European clubs, but it's been exceptionally hit-and-miss, at best, in the Premiership. It's succeeded at West Brom so far, but that's one of the few, if only, current examples.
This piece, by Football Fancast has a mostly-thorough list of players signed by Spurs during Comolli's tenure. It also excoriates the man for Tottenham's "mish-mash" of players, and rightfully argues that Redknapp's been far better from them than the previous set-up. But as Wenger, who hired Comolli as a scout, noted, "anything can work as long as people, when they sign their contracts, know clearly what is their responsibilities." That arguably wasn't the case at Tottenham.
There are definitely some highlights – Bale, Modric, and Berbatov, among others – but other than the languid Bulgarian, Spurs paid in full for them. And there are the inevitable lows, where ~£15m for Bentley flashes in neon lights. Scrolling through that list, I'm surprised to see the cost of Bent, Kaboul, Hutton, Gomes, etc. – all higher than I would have guessed (except in the case of Bent, which I remember simply because it absolutely stunned me at the time). Comolli will work under a much tighter budget at Anfield, even if NESV loosens the purse-strings far more than the previous owners.
Given the new owners' resumé, references to Moneyball have become unavoidable. And Comolli's often mentioned in articles about Beane's 'love affair with soccer' – as recently as last week and as far back as 2007. Hiring a Director of Football, especially one with Comolli's history, is certainly a step in that direction.
That Hodgson was only recently talking about identifying transfer targets leads me to believe (hope?) that this was somewhat out of the blue for him. But that could well be my bias creeping in. He's quoted on the official site saying, "I am looking forward to working with Damien whom I have known for many years. We are engaged in an exciting project here and he will bring a lot to the table," but we've seen similar spin before. And on face value, Comolli and Hodgson represent diametric opposites.
More important were John Henry's quotes.
"Today's announcement is just the first step in creating a leadership group and structure designed to develop, enhance and implement our long-term philosophy of scouting, recruitment, player development and all of the other aspects necessary to build and sustain a club able to consistently compete at the highest level in European football.
"We intend to be bold and innovative. We will not rest until we have restored Liverpool Football Club to the greatness Liverpool fans expect."
"Bold and innovative" aren't words I'd associate with the managerial regime so far. Time will tell where this heads, but it seems a promising development.