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Explained: How Liverpool’s next manager can work with a sporting director

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With the introduction of the new Liverpool sporting director, Richard Hughes, Robbie Fowler has explained how he can effectively work with the next manager.

At the top of Hughes’ list will be to hire a successor to Jurgen Klopp. With Michael Edwards also involved in the appointment, the pair will need to pick someone they can work with, but not a yes-man, says Fowler.

The legendary striker told This Is Anfield: “You don’t go into football wanting to surround yourselves with yes-men.

“You want people to question you, you want people to ask questions and you want to question them.

“But, it’s got to be a two-way street, and a lot of the questions I’m sort of getting asked now is ‘can a manager work with a sporting director?’.

STANFORD, USA - Sunday, July 24, 2016: Liverpool's Robbie Fowler and manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session in the Laird Q. Cagan Stadium at Stanford University on day four of the club's USA Pre-season Tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“They absolutely can, they really can, but there’s also got to be the question the other way round, ‘can the sporting director work with the manager?’.”

Fowler speaks from experience having endured a rocky relationship with Carlos Anton, the technical director at his last club, Al-Qadsiah.

“Not enough gets said about whether a sporting director can work with the manager,” Fowler told This Is Anfield‘s David Lynch in February.

“I always felt that he wasn’t working with me; it turned out he had his own plans and just wanted to bring his own people in.”

Roar coach Robbie Fowler is seen in action during a team training session at Logan Metro Sports Park in Brisbane, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

Now, Fowler adds: “You’ve got to be fighting for the same outcome, and as long as everyone’s working on that same sheet of blank paper, then it becomes a lot easier, as opposed to if you’re trying to do something and maybe someone’s trying to stop that.

“It becomes a bit of a mess and a bit of a disjointed occasion, everyone’s got to sing from the same hymn sheet.”

Liverpool’s next manager will be acting under a restructured hierarchy at the club, with Edwards now working as CEO of Football for FSG and assuming a role above sporting director Hughes.

The new coach will also have to work closely with the Reds’ scouting team, who are adding Bournemouth‘s chief scout Mark Birchall and scouting co-ordinator Craig McKee, according to BBC Sport.

Thankfully, Liverpool don’t need to look too far for new talent on the pitch. A wave of more-than-capable youngsters are coming through the Reds’ academy, like Fowler did in the early 1990s.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's Jayden Danns celebrates with the trophy after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The striker made his Liverpool debut at 18 and went on to score 183 goals in 369 appearances.

Speaking about the current crop of young players, Fowler said: “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. I think that’s proven in not only myself, but in lots of players.

“But look, who are we to say anything about Jurgen?

“Jurgen’s probably the best manager in the world currently and he’s probably got a bigger squad to play with than what squads have had in the past.

“I think that maybe plays a part but, you know, we’re talking about the best manager in the world, we know that.

“He’s clever and astute in terms of how he wants his team to play, how he wants his squad to play.

“Bringing in the young kids at times when, at times, we’ve probably needed them, but still managed to control the minutes and I think that says everything about him, not only as a manager but also as a person.

“I think he realises the dangers that maybe some players can get into later in their career.”