Comolli slams Redknapp over sporting directors

Former Tottenham and Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli believes all major sports clubs could eventually be run by sporting directors, and has hit out at Harry Redknapp's dislike of the role.

Redknapp - who resigned as QPR manager on Tuesday - branded directors of football "a joke" last year and was instrumental in Comolli leaving Tottenham in 2008, when he took over at White Hart Lane.

Ironically, Redknapp's departure from Loftus Road this week saw the promotion of Les Ferdinand to director of football, with the former England striker given responsibility for recruitment.

And, harking back to his time at Tottenham, Comolli reckons Redknapp owes him a debt of gratitude.

"I read the piece when Harry Redknapp was criticising directors of football," said Comolli at an event to promote Manchester Metropolitan University's Master's in Sporting Directorship degree - a course aimed at coaches and others in sport who want to take on a more strategic role at a club or a league.

"I can't remember if he said they were a joke or a waste of time, but, whatever, I do know that the best team he has ever managed in his life was put together by two directors of football, Frank Arnesen and myself at Spurs.

"I think he should be grateful for the work we have done. He made the best out of the players Frank and I brought in.

"What was strange and laughable was that when I left Spurs, people in the game said that system does not work and managers were saying 'I will never work with a director of football'. I take all those comments with a pinch of salt.

"When I left Spurs, everybody told me the signings were no good, [Luka] Modric was no good and [Younes] Kaboul was no good and [Gareth] Bale wasn't good and so-and-so wasn't good. But a year and a half later those players finished fourth and went into the Champions League and Spurs sold them for big money.

"If people choose to go down a direction, they need to stick to it and trust the people who are doing the job. Long term, it turned out to be a good thing for the football club." 

While Bale, sold to Real Madrid for a fee reported to be around £85 million, ultimately proved to be a stellar signing, arguably others have failed to get beyond ground zero, notably striker Andy Carroll, signed for Liverpool by Comolli for big money but who scored just 11 goals in 58 appearances before being offloaded, initially on loan and then permanently to West Ham in a cut-price deal.

However, none of that shakes Comolli's belief that the role of sporting director is essential for any club with ambitions of garnering trophies and delivering commercial success.

"It gives stability and continuity to a sports organisation," said Comolli. "It gives continuity in culture and values, and in terms of scouting and youth development. If there is a change of head coach or manager, it should not change the dynamic of the sports organisation.

"The director is the safeguard. That is why it is so important.

"When I joined Spurs 10 years ago I said in 10 years most of the clubs in England will have a sports director. Maybe it's not most, but a lot of clubs have sports directors now from the top of the Premier League down to League Two. There will be more and more in the future.

"Managers understand now what the role can bring to the football club and it has been more accepted. It's about not changing direction and opinions every five minutes. The football club suffers.”