Liverpool’s director of research Ian Graham will step down from his post at the end of the season.
The news comes on the same day Julian Ward’s departure at the end of the campaign was made public. The sporting director only officially succeeded Michael Edwards last summer after around 18 months as his assistant but will step down next year.
It will leave Liverpool with two sizable holes to fill in their football operations department at a time when club owners Fenway Sports Group are exploring the possibility of an outright sale of the club they purchased for £300m in 2010.
Dr Graham joined Anfield from Decision Technology, a London-based business management consultant company, and was appointed by Edwards, who left the club last summer after a vaunted spell ast sporting director.
The Welshman currently heads up a six-man team that also contains Tim Waskett, Dafydd Steele, Will Spearman, Mark Stevenson and Mark Howlett, and the half-dozen science-based academics all answer to current sporting director Ward.
Liverpool have never been keen to overly promote the work of their data analysis department in a public forum and interview requests from within the team have always been politely declined, but Graham was a guest speaker at the StatsBomb Conference at Stamford Bridge in October 2021.
“Analytics was ridiculed when I started working for Liverpool in 2012,” he said at the event. “In 2021 it’s the must-have tool for any forward-thinking football club.”
They call it ‘Moneyball’ but it’s not a phrase we use very often. The point of Moneyball is not an improvement in performance. Anyone can improve their team by signing Lionel Messi, for example.
“Moneyball is about maximising an improvement in performance at a minimum cost. And that’s not to say that we’re cheap. We could say the improvement requires a five-point improvement for us to make the Champions League, for example.
What’s the minimum cost we can make that improvement for if our budget is [for example] £50m for the season? Or we could say ‘what’s the maximum improvement we can get for that transfer budget?”
It has previously been claimed that both Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita were recommended based on the strength of the data supplied by Dr Graham’s research, while analysis of the market was integral towards bringing Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim for £28m in the summer of 2015.