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TTT Free Friday: 25th November 2022
Free Friday will cover our work across The Tomkins Times’ Substack network, with it running via an opt-in or opt-out newsletter on The Main Hub (where almost all of the community commenting takes place), but covering TTT’s four sub-Substacks, or spokes.
One of the best posters on TTT is Mobykidz, and he’s also a regular contributor to the post-match analysis; with no Liverpool games at the moment though, below he gives his view on Julian Ward leaving and the current dynamics at the club.
I do not know all the facts behind Julian Ward departing. Yet the words that springs to mind are short to medium term uncertainty. The long term picture still remains positive. Jurgen Klopp has signed up till 2026 and has made his post-FSG intentions clear if the Americans cash in. A new investor or owner will provide a deeper transfer and development fund to build the next squad for Klopp to mould into a more effective winning team. So, its time to put those big boy pants on and prepare for another tumultuous few months both on and off the pitch.
According to reports Julian Ward's departure does not mean taking gardening leave or it seems an immediate future employer lined up. Less than a year into the job and his moving on is not my biggest concern. Since he joined in 2012 those ties to Liverpool pre-date that and his departure is a genuine shock to me because of it. The disharmony over the past year is well documented but Ward's departure could represent a significant shift away from the recruitment model that landed a core part of our squad where Diaz may have been the last and Nunez the first in a new approach. No offence to Darwin but Diaz is a technically better player yet the ceiling on our Uruguayan is potentially higher.
With Mike Gordon moving back to FSG, and maybe replacing John Henry in the long term, Billy Hogan's promotion would have meant working closely with Julian Ward. That change taken with what Paul has suggested as the ruptures in camaraderie may have put Ward into the sort of territory that Michael Edwards had seen coming or even predicted. Ward's departure may have been inevitable considering his mentor's own reasons for going. James Pearce suggested FSG tried to persuade Ward to reconsider but couldn't change his mind. Its a shame because of Ward's journey but at least we have the rest of the season to recruit a successor though that is not our biggest priority against the uncertainty that's slowly been building.
Our world class physicists will be a man light with Ian Graham moving on (or more). After a decade or so this is less of a surprise. This may or may not be a result of a shift in recruitment or training or recovery. But big data these days underpins so many decisions we make. There are nuggets of a story that numbers can tell which the naked eye cannot see. What now happens to that data science team is important in guessing the direction Klopp wishes to go in. My personal view is as long as the manager has a range of inputs and opinions to weigh up they will make better decisions. For me the bigger focus must be the medical and recovery department because after last season’s glory hunt is it really just bad luck?
[Edit - Responding to uncertainty on Will Spearman staying (Paul's comment) he joined in 2018 after being head hunted it seems by Ian Graham, Tim Waskett and Dafydd Steele - our research department. In February 2022 Spearman told the LFC website: "I think the most rewarding parts of the job are the camaraderie at the training ground and being able to watch this group of players prove how good they are." There's that word camaraderie again. As those relationships loosened what is the risk our R&D team all leave? That would be sad as you literally lose the "smartest people" in the room. However, it's too early to draw any conclusions as we simply don't know. With Liverpool right now it is a wait and see period that comes with cycles of speculation.]
Football is an odd construct where turmoil off the pitch galvanises the team on the pitch. But I cannot help wonder if behind the scenes the team has been affected. There's a huge amount uncertainty with new owners, new Director of Football, New Head of Analysis and more potentially around the season’s corner. Can Liverpool weather the storm? Its difficult to say but at least with Jurgen Klopp the hope remains. Yet we can't solely rely on one individual and the sooner the club gets back to figuring out how to build success together and recruit those capable of delivering it we can push on. My worry is that may take a little longer than expected and in that time others will take full advantage and move ahead.
TTT Main Hub
There’s been plenty of discussion on the potential sale of the club, and how we might react to different owners.
This was followed up with the best comments from underneath the above article.
Then, yesterday, the news broke about Julian Ward leaving, and Ian Graham’s resignation. Paul wrote a summary of recent events.
On a more positive note, Paul looked at various spells of form under Klopp and how that might translate into the second half of the season. This was supplemented with this table.
Transfer Hub and Deep Dives
Mizgan’s weekly article focused on the young Swiss striker Noah Okafor, and how he could be a potential replacement for Firmino.
Imagine a world where there was no internet, no satellite and cable broadcasting, no mobile phone, not even teletext on TV.
Where there are no players to scout on YouTube, and the only televised live football was the FA Cup Final, the annual England-Scotland Home International game, World Cups and if a British team reached a European final.
Where all weekend games kicked off at the same time - Saturday, 3pm - and the only ways to find out how other games were going was either from a tinny, tiny, crackly transistor radio held to your ear or by the half-time alphabet scoreboard – you looked in your programme for which letter was for which match, and a guy sauntered up and slid numbers into the slot, like a cricket scoreboard. ‘B – Aston Villa v Manchester City. 1-0’. Imagine the excitement, the roar, when for ‘D – Newcastle v Everton – the first number slid in was ‘3’, followed by a ‘0’. Those few seconds gap before the ‘0’ arrived was pure theatre.
This Red Planet:
I looked at the moral quandary surrounding the ongoing World Cup, and whether to watch it or not.
There was also a mini podcast looking at various issues in the football world - and in particular the World Cup.
The Small Print
This is a weekly newsletter mailout, and commenting is switched off.
Again: separate paid subscriptions are required for the specialist spokes. (Albeit there will be free content on these from time to time, and as with Substack, there is the option to receive free previews via email where applicable.)
The ZenDen is all about me finding positives, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t negatives. I provide a more rounded analysis on The Main Hub, but the ZenDen is for those who feel like they’re drowning in doom-and-gloom reactions and hysterical hot-takes.