DML Editorial: Complaining about Comolli
Damien Comolli has fallen on his feet. The much maligned easy-to-blame target for the Spurs boo-boys, the media and for the right honourable Daniel Levy - who made sure that after Ramos was acquired as manager that everyone knew he was brought in on the say so and recommendation of Comolli (thus by default, responsibility for his failure was tagged). But, fallen on his feet has Damien. At Saint-Etienne. Again.
I was never a fan of his (you'd never have guessed that, right?) but more so was never a fan of the director of football structure. Chief scout working as a bitch to the manager, closing deals the manager has requested is how it should have worked rather than taking responsibility of transfers away from the coach. We all know it was an overly simplistic system when noted on paper but in reality it created confusion and chaos in-house and on the terraces with nobody ever knowing who was directly responsible for the internal politics that undermined the likes of Jol. Obviously Levy, but see, he sits on the side of 'I'm dumb with the football thing and entrust my DoF to make sure all things go as planned', so as this paragraph descends into literal suicide, it serves its purpose to prove that Comolli leaving and Levy finally admitting defeat is a great day for traditionalists.
Will it be great for Saint-Etienne? Possibly. Possibly not. Don't care. So what of Damien's reign as top cockerel at WHL? Was he really THAT bad? Was he simply an easy target, with us only selecting examples of transfers that didn't quite work out (no different to a manager with no technical director influence buying the wrong player - and how many times has that happened?) and not giving him credit when he did bring in someone decent?
The fickleness is strong amongst us. He was celebrated for a period of time, believe it or not. When things were going well on the pitch. When we signed Zokora (and he was photographed with the player by a Spurs fan abroad) many of us saw this as a major coup. A real proper DM, proven African Nations class. And he also signed Berbatov (his first signing in fact). Or did Jol tell him to scout Berbatov and sign him? And was Berbatov really a good signing considering the mess its left us in? Harsh I know - because there's no way of knowing who or when a player will act in such a disloyal way. The point is, was Comolli actually 'ok' at his job?
Bent (initially slated by all), Corluka, Woodgate, Bale, Hutton, Modric, Bentley - all arguably very very decent players (Bale and Hutton still trying to reclaim some form after returning from injury and Bentley and Modric finding their level after a slow start). Most Prem teams outside the 'Top Four' would be happy to take these players off our hands (by most I mean Aston Villa). Modric is arguably good enough for a Top 4 club. And might well be playing for one in a season or two. Hmm. Anyways, all good good players. Maybe purchased for a little bit too much, but that's up the bank and not, I would expect the DoF.
Some managers spend millions on players of their own choosing, who flop and get sold on - so if Comolli was discussing targets at all times with the 'coach' and only going out to sign a player the coach wanted 100%, then was he doing anything wrong? Was he not just doing his job? Following orders? Players who we apparently missed out on due to chairman interference ('he is too old' - 'he wants too much in wages') is surely down to Levy and Levy alone. Up to the bank, right?
But isn't it Comolli who advises Levy who should be manager? Surely someone with that much responsibility and power wouldn't then become a lap dog for someone he appointed? Would he?
But what of Ghaly or Kevin Prince 'everyone thinks I was German Young Player of the Year when actually I wasn't' Boateng? Or Rocha? Or Taraabt? Or Gilberto? Or BAE? Kaboul? And Zokora obviously. Or Zokora. And Zokora. That Zokora. Oh Christ, Zokora.
We have spent millions on players that don't appear to be signings the coach might have wanted or singled out as targets. Millions of pounds playing reserve team football without a squad number. Yet where are the player we so desperately require? The cheap and cheerful engine-rooms and grafters? Not every player has to be box-office.
And when we need a replacement for Berbatov along with a defensive midfielder we got nothing. He never got on with Jol and along with his pal Kemsley got Ramos to walk out of Sevilla for us, which turned out to be an epic failure too far. So surely an inability to work with someone like Jol and Ramos out-weighs any successful signing? But if he's empowered by the chairman, the buck should stop with Levy. But it doesn't. And gone is Comolli.
Apart from the nitty gritty of transfers, arguably, you could say his other main directive is to avoid mass upheaval and sign players the next manager can work with - all of course within the DoF structure. So basically, Comolli is responsible for the vision and progression of the club, and no matter who we sign, the 'next' coach can ease in and continue the training of the first team.
But now, this ethos, no longer exists, so players like Modric and Bentley - bought by Comolli for Ramos and were not used properly are now finding their way under Redknapp who HAS used them properly. But then any manager probably would have done so. In fact, if the players are good enough, it doesn't really matter who the coach is as long as he can man-manage.
What pro-Comolli supporters will tell you, as I've hinted earlier, is that he hasn't done that bad compared to other managers (DoF free) with signings. But again (repeat mode) him being there as a buffer between chairman and coach, protecting the chairman serves no purpose to the fans or the club in the long term.
Let's take a look at his signings:
Berbatov £10.9M - For the money spent and low-key status of the Bulgarian (not everyone had heard of him) this was a great signing. The first made by DC, and ironically the one that would prove (partly) pivotal in his downfall, thanks to Levy's dithering.
Assou-Ekotto £3.5M - Why, why, why? He has one move. You know the one. It's the one where he moves to go one way and goes the other instead.
Zokora £6M - After the first season, everyone hoped to see the real Zokora - the one that played a handful of games in the African Nations - in his second year at the Lane. What we got in year two was first season Zokora, slightly degraded, but with additional dance moves. An engine he has, but its not enough. Footballing brain is a standard requirement. Doesn't score goals, likes to play act and is pretty much the definition of not what to spend £6M + on.
Dervitte undisclosed - Not seen much of him, but I'll put this type of signing down to the quintessential 'we've signed a captain of his country (be it at youth U-21 level)' Spurs signing that we never see break into the first team because they never turn out to be good.
Malbranque £3.5M - Great player to have in the squad and team, and our most consistent performer last season. Would flourish under Redknapp. Why was he sold to Sunderland? Did we need the extra few million, perhaps for investment in the hopefully re-designing of Chirpy's head?
Chimbonda £4M - Infuriating player. Mercenary who had a few decent games, because he can play, but has shown himself up (Cup Final anyone?) and since joining Sunderland has continued to prove this point.
Mido £4.5M - Really helped us when he first signed up, influential up front, giving us somethign different. The weight/injury problems means he will probably never consistently perform for any one club.
Rocha £3.5M - Why?
Alnwich undisclosed - Is he still on loan? Another 'highly rated youth player' who we've seen nothing from. Apart from his dick in a mobile phone sex video.
Bale £5M - Great talent, but is possessed by evil spirits. Why was this not uncovered during scouting missions? Has never won a Prem game for Spurs, and never will till he is exorcised
Berchiche undisclosed - Another one for the future, but he has a few years before we can chalk this off as a faded dream.
Taarabt undisclosed - Zidane on LSD. Has had some tasty games for the reserves, that are made up of 10-30 second bursts of genius, followed by playground football. A kid with immense ball skills, but suffering from Zokorapsy. If he doesn't learn to do the simple things, he'll never make it.
Bent £16.5M - Masses of money spent on him. The ones who didn't want to take the abuse that Bent was a waste of money will tell you he was bought for that much at the time because we needed someone to take the helm from Berbatov. Except, Berba was still with us for a season - along with Keane and Defoe, so Bent's form and confidence suffered as he sat it out on the bench. Still, over-inflated price (thanks to West Ham for matching Charlton's estimation). We were still the mugs that paid it. £9M would have been fine based on modern day wastefulness. Still, at least he is now starting to repay us. But why he was bought originally when we did not require a forward, especially when the money could have been spent elsewhere is.....Comolli's guess.
Kaboul £8.2M - Stupid. Another 'captain', another average player. Struggled thanks largely to the poor start to the season we had, but showed glimpses of something. That something then turned to nothing, confirming he was shit. Now at Pompey (bought by Redknapp, which is something that I'll worry about depending on how Harry does in the Jan window). Complete and utter waste of money. You do not spend £8.2M on a 'potentially great player'. Potential is another word for 'maybe'.
Rose undisclosed - Decent young Lennoneque player, without the bling baggage. One to watch and maybe a gem. As long as he stays away from Buckhurst Hill.
Boateng £5.2M - Much hyped because he has 'Prince' in his name and has tattoos. Looked well over his head when he did play for us, but he just might come good. Has 'grown up' since he got relegated to the reserves (basically, he realised he was being a dick and has got back to proving his worth as an up and coming prospect by concentrating on his football, because Christ, he ain't no superstar). Harry has brought him back into 1st team affairs, so a second chance is on the cards. Did we sign him because Sevilla were looking at him when Ramos was still there? Doubtful you think, as Ramos never went anywhere near him selection wise.
Gunter £2M - Decent player. Another gem, we hope.
Woodgate £7.5M - Doesn't take a DoF to look towards bringing Woody to Spurs, does it? Any manager at Spurs (considering our CB issues) would have looked to bring him in. Am I side-stepping a compliment for Comolli? Yes. Yes, I am.
Hutton £8M - Probably a bit too much for a Scottish player. Looked superb getting forward before injury. Bit of a crock performance wise since coming back. Comolli bought him on the strength of one of his scouts (Alex Ferguson).
Gilberto £1.9M - Brazilian? If he's Brazilian, so are my nuts.
Modric £15.8M - Brilliant little player. Gem for sure. Diamond in fact. But what does it say about the working relationship of Ramos and Comolli when Modric is stuck in awkward formation positions and struggles to impress? Harry comes in and does what everyone would do - let him play as a classic free-roaming number 10. Spurs did well to sign him. He's a typical flair Spurs type of signing and one we needed after losing the vision of Berbatov. I'll give Comolli props for getting the signature, but what did Ramos actually ask for? A left-winger?
dos Santos £4.7M - Either he is an extreme talent (if so, why did Barcelona let him go?) or he's a one-trick pony. IMO, was thrown into the deep end in a shit team. When he returns from injury, hope to see him settle and play. Might not be good enough for Bojans Barca, but he'll do fine in the Premiership. But Spurs should not have pushed this as a major coup with additonal 'he'll be a fully fledged first team player' soundbites. We needed something a little more complete. dos Santos is for the future. He's got a while to go before we can claim to have the best young Mexican player.
Gomes £9M - He plays brilliantly against us (for PSV) in one game and that's enough to value him at a hefty £9M and also pencil him in as a steady, reliable replacement for Paul 'I once had a HUGE long term contract at Spurs' Robinson. Instead we got a very good shot-stopper who is prone to amazing lapses in concentration and experiences yo-yo confidence. In other words, we spent almost ten million to bring back Paul Robinson.
Bostock £700k - Gem, gem, gem. Whether we have the development lined up for him is something I can only pray for. This kid can plaaaay. So credit here.
Bentley £15M - A typical superfluous luxury Tottenham type of player. Not really needed, when you consider what was needed pre-season. We lose Robbie Keane, so quick-sharp, we get a new poster boy. Not that Robbie was ever a poster boy. However, confidence makes people forget the past and look to the future, and Bentley is showing some quality now that he and the team are playing with swagger. Still not worth £15M, and might yet still go missing in games, depending on whether the gel keeps his hair in place.
Sanchez undisclosed - Backup keeper. Fairly impossible to be critical of this signing. Until he plays and concedes three.
Pavlyuchenko £14M - He might have the fashion sense of a blind chav let loose in Primark, but he seems honest, but not in a soppy way Rebrov was. Might have no pace but once he settles in England, he might be very decent for us. A snip at £14M. I'm trying not to be critical of the player, so I wont. I'll be critical of Comolli however who saw fit to spend this staggering amount of money on a player who had just done 5 months of Russian football. Arshavin would cost us £20M tops. We don't ever spot a bargain do we?
Corluka £8.5M - Can cover three or so positions. Has looked good and has looked average, but with Mordic at Spurs, bringing him in was inspired. I don't want to sound like a broken record and criticise the fee, and when you compare the amount spent and see it matches up with the money spent on Kaboul, this transfer still manages to make me feel a lot better, even though it shouldn't. But I wonder what kind of defender we could have got for £16M.
Campbell loan - Manchester United laughing at us.
So, the list more or less has as many hits and misses as you'd expect from most clubs who go with a more traditional manager-with-no-director-of-football-system. The lack of transparency means we simply can't be certain how much influence Jol and Ramos had during their time there and how involved Levy truly was. So, be it Comolli the glorified scout/contract man or be it Comolli the would be architect of glory - the only thing certain is he was one cook too many around the broth.
Comolli, having inherited a team built by Frank Arnesen's and Martin Jol - who finished 5th - he got Jol sacked and left us wanting a DM and a LW even after spunking £150M. He simply never bought the right players for the right (or left) positions when most required.
This system doesn't, didn't work.
The comedy Comolli complaints have now ceased. Forever.