Outgoing Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards is confident his replacement Julian Ward has the skills to help head coach Jurgen Klopp bring more success to the club.
Edwards will step down from his role at the end of the 2021-22 season, when his deal expires, having joined Liverpool in 2011 as head of analytics before eventually rising to his current position in 2016.
In his time as sporting director, Liverpool have won the Champions League, Premier League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
Edwards is certain, however, that assistant sporting director Ward will be ready to step into his shoes when he leaves and that the change will spur the Reds on in their continuous pursuit of silverware.
“I know the Liverpool Football Club that I am leaving behind couldn’t be in better hands,” Edwards wrote in an open letter to Liverpool fans on the club’s official website. “I think it is entirely fitting that the person to take over from me is Julian Ward.
“Julian has been building up the skill-set for this role for many years and there are countless elements of his development that could be highlighted, none more so than the outstanding work he did in creating our loan department six years ago.
“It was during this period that he not only laid the groundwork for a long-term process that continues to provide significant benefit to players and club, he also accelerated his learning on many of the aspects you deal with as a sporting director.
“Last year, he took on the role of assistant sporting director and over the past 12 months he has been introduced to other facets of the role that are vital to its success.
Michael Edwards’ open letter to Liverpool supporters:
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 10, 2021
“Again, Julian’s elevation is wholly in keeping with what I believe to be a key factor of the Liverpool Way, with promotion from within ensuring expertise, experience and institutional knowledge are cherished in the way that they should be.
“Over the remainder of this season, I will continue to support him as we complete the leadership transition, working closely with Mike Gordon – the man who never sleeps.”
Edwards reserved special praise for Reds manager Klopp, lauding the German’s competitive nature and his accomplishments at Liverpool.
“When we sign a player, Jurgen will always say 50 per cent is on him and 50 per cent is on the player himself to succeed,” Edwards continued. “I think the timing of his arrival and the implementation of his philosophy and his character as a leader will be remembered at Liverpool forever.
“Being manager of Liverpool is probably harder than playing [the shirt hangs heavy, so they say], but he has delivered so much joy to the fans and reasserted so many of the club’s historical values that he will go down in history as one of the club’s managerial greats.
“He is a demanding man – he wants to win, whether it’s padel tennis or a Champions League final – and he has led the team incredibly well over my time at LFC.
“Julian and Jurgen have a very good relationship and moving forward I am confident that they will bring the club more success.”