You may well have seen (and enjoyed) like me, Leonardo di Caprio’s brilliant interpretation of Frank Abagnale Jr., in Steven Spielberg’s box office hit, “Catch me if you can”.
Football has its very own version!
Damian Comelli has managed to bag top jobs at numerous big clubs, without actually ever having ever proved he knows anything about football at all! He certainly knows how to sell himself, though.
In 2006 I was working for Tottenham Hotspurs as an advisor on Spanish, Central and South American football. I loved the job, as I worked for a marvellous character, Eddie Presland. Mr. Ed, we called him, and he was the Chief Scout and the manager made the decisions. One of the last of his kind, Mr Ed; a man who had played both professional football and Cricket at the same time, well, almost – one in the summer and the other in the winter. Eddie played his soccer at West Ham United at the beginning of the sixties with a number of the world cup winning England team from 1966, which included the likes of Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. Harry Rednapp and Frank Lampard (Sr.) were also his team mates.
Back to 2005, Martin Jol was manager of Tottenham at the time and, within their possibilities and budget, were doing pretty well.
Frank Arnesen, director of football at Spurs, was signed by Chelsea and Daniel Levy, Chairman of Spurs, brought in the completely unknown Damian Comolli.
The signing was unusual, a little known scout from France, who worked for Arsenal suddenly found himself in a 3 figure salary job. The main highlight in his CV was claiming to have discovered Thierry Henry for Monaco and subsequently Arsenal. However, when Mr. Ed and I did very simple straight forward maths, we worked out that Comolli must have been about 25 (way before Comolii’s Monaco days) when Henry was already an under-20 French international!
Once at White Hart Lane, one of the first decisions that Comolli made was to sack the manager – Martin Jol – he brought in a Spanish manager, as it happens, and not under by recommendation, either! Juande Ramos became probably the most unsuccessful manager during the history of Spurs, winning a total of about 5 games in 6 months!
Next to go were both Mr. Ed and myself. Amongst the targets we had been following till then was the outstanding player David Silva, who was then just 18 – however, Mr. Comolli thought he was too small and fragile for the English game….. so, I already knew how successful he was going to be. Mr. Ed and myself had many a good laugh at the expense of D.C., as you can imagine.
At the same time, Juande Ramos was sacked in 2008, so was Comolli. However, he officially announced that he was leaving by mutual consent due to family reasons. Well, I can assure you he was sacked!
He went back to his native France and worked for St. Etienne before, once again, very surprisingly, in 2010, he landed the top job at Liverpool FC!
Never before in all my life have I ever seen or read about a person who knows so little about something, yet goes so far. It really is a magnificent Spielberg script and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come out of Hollywood one day!
Most recently, Damian Comolli announced on 12th April 2012 he was leaving Liverpool FC by mutual consent. He stated that he left due to family reasons…however, rumours have circulated that he may have been sacked as a result of failings in the transfer market!!!
Despite ‘wearing ‘clever glasses’ Comolli failed to spot that five good games for Newcastle didn’t make Andy Carroll worth £35m; a few good crosses for Villa didn’t make Stewart Downing: Steve Guppy; and being fat didn’t make Charlie Adam:Matt Le Tissier.