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Dec 14, 2012

Comolli defends Liverpool transfer record

Liverpool's former director of football Damien Comolli has defended the transfer activity he oversaw during his time at the club.

Comolli spent a little more than 18 months at Anfield between 2010 and 2012, during which time he oversaw the £50 million sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea and several big-money acquisitions such Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, with wildly varying degrees of success.

Comolli was dismissed in April, with then manager Kenny Dalglish following him out of the door at the end of the season as their signings were cited as a major factor in Liverpool's underachievement during that campaign.

However, Comolli insists that his overall record at the club stands up and that people, including the club's owners, were too quick to write off several signings as flops.

"First of all you need to look at the big picture," Comolli said in an interview in The Times. "We did 26 deals, and to think we would not make any mistakes in such a huge number of deals in and out would be totally unrealistic. I don't think we made any mistakes on the players going out, and whether we made mistakes on the players who came in I think, first of all, time will tell.

"I am very uncomfortable for players to be judged after six, eight or even 12 months. Sometimes it takes two or three years. In two or three years you can say, 'Damien and Kenny, you were wrong'. Or you can say, 'They just needed time'."

In particular, the £35 million fee paid to Newcastle for Carroll in January 2011 on the same day as Torres left has been used against Comolli. Carroll scored just 11 goals in the ensuing year-and-a-half, and has been shipped out on loan to West Ham this season with new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers making it clear the England striker does not feature in his plans.

However, Comolli defended the signing, insisting that Liverpool's net spend during that transfer window - which also saw Suarez arrive from Ajax for £22.8 million - made good good business and football sense.

"If you want to talk about the Carroll deal, the situation was quite clear," he said. "The way we looked at it, we were selling two players, Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel, and we were bringing two in, Luis Suarez and Carroll, and we were making a profit and the wage bill was coming down as well. It was a four-player deal.

"Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher [for Torres], until we got to a point where the difference between their first and final bid was double. They [FSG] asked me what the risks were and I said that if things don't go well you'll lose something on Andy, but it is difficult to measure whether you will make money if things go well because Liverpool aren't a selling club and he could be here for ten years.

"They asked Kenny and myself if we were happy to do the deal. We said 'yes' and they said they were happy to take the risk because Fernando had to go."

Comolli, who had previously worked as a sporting director at Tottenham Hotspur, is yet to take up another full-time role in football, and is unsure as to how much his stint on Merseyside has affected his credibility. However, he remains adamant that he can defend the job he did at Anfield to anyone who takes issue with him over it.

"I don't know if my reputation has been damaged by what happened," he said. "I speak to people and they ask, 'What about that deal?' I explain and they say, 'OK, I see where you're coming from.'"

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