Liverpool are enduring a tricky time at the moment – both on and off the field – after sporting director Julian Ward announced he will leave Anfield at the end of the season, having only taken on his role less than a year ago
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The Reds have confirmed sporting director Ward will leave the club at the end of the season after just a year in the position. Ward succeeded Michael Edwards in the summer and was expected to carry on Liverpool’s recent success in the transfer market.
Ward’s departure is the latest blow for Liverpool this term after the club’s owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) announced they were listening to offers. Jurgen Klopp’s side are also struggling on the field – sitting sixth in the Premier League table – and Klopp is now set to have a greater say in recruitment.
“It’s not ideal because I think when you’re talking about recruiting players, a person in that role [sporting director] is heavily involved,” Carragher told Sky Sports. “Not just for right now – the January transfer window – you’re talking about the summer as well.
“So it does feel like a little bit of a shock, and I think it is a little bit of a worry for Liverpool right now. There seems to be a lot of upheaval behind the scenes in terms of the ownership.
“Michael Edwards has moved on, Julian Ward came in to replace him – and now he’s gone as well. I don’t think it’ll be easy to get someone in straight away if it is unexpected for Liverpool and has come as a shock.
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“I’m sure they’re not prepared for something like that right now. But someone will fill that role and hopefully they have as much success in that role as Julian Ward and Michael Edwards has had in the past.”
Ward’s predecessor Edwards stepped down from his position in the summer after seven years in charge of Liverpool’s transfer strategy. During that time, the Reds signed the likes of Sadio Mane, Alisson, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah. The club’s director of research, Dr Ian Graham, who played a key role in a number of those signings with his data-led approach, has also announced he is resigning.
Liverpool’s clever signings turned Klopp’s side into one of the most successful in Europe. They’ve since won the Premier League title, Champions League, FA Cup, EFL Cup, Club World Cup, European Super Cup and Community Shield under the German.
Liverpool fans hoped their success would continue when Ward replaced Edwards. Ward was his predecessor’s assistant for 18 months and has been employed by the club for more than a decade. It’s believed Liverpool are surprised by Ward’s exit.
The news comes just weeks after Liverpool chairman Tom Werner confirmed FSG are “exploring a sale” of the club. There has been little progress on this since the news broke, with Klopp insisting his position hasn’t changed amid the background noise.
On the pitch, things aren’t going too well for Liverpool. They’re 15 points behind leaders Arsenal in the Premier League and have brutal cup ties against Real Madrid in the Champions League and Manchester City in the EFL Cup on the horizon.