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The Indispensable Liverpool Visionary: Michael Edwards

This is an updated version of an article first published in June 2020.

Perhaps the best place to start is the story Harry Redknapp tells when he is asked about Michael Edwards and the remarkable chain of events that first took a frustrated IT teacher from Peterborough to a position of power and influence at Liverpool.

Redknapp had been Portsmouth manager when Edwards — or ‘Eddie’, as he is commonly known — was given his big break in football and, over a decade since they last worked together, he got back in touch a while ago to request a favour.

“I’d met a guy who had only a few weeks to live,” Redknapp says. “This poor guy was in his early forties. He had been married only a couple of years and he knew he was dying. Someone had got in touch and said, ‘Harry, he’d love to meet you. He’s football mad’. So I went round to his house one Sunday and spent a couple of hours with him, his wife and his in-laws. He was an amazing boy, so strong, and he told me it was his dream to go to Liverpool.

“I rang Michael Edwards and, straight away, he went, ‘Harry, not a problem’. I arranged a car, I got a driver. Eddie sorted everything else. There wasn’t any of the, ‘Oh, Harry, I’m sorry, mate, you know how busy I am’, that you can get sometimes.

“He put himself out, he organised the full day and treated him incredibly. We have to remember we are in a position where we can make a difference to people’s lives. Sadly, this guy died four or five weeks later. Eddie had got him into the directors’ box, introduced him to everybody — Kenny Dalglish, Jurgen Klopp — the boy had the best day of his life. Loved every minute of it.”

It was all done with no publicity, of course, because Edwards had a strict understanding with Liverpool that, as far as the media are concerned, he would rather keep everyone a long arm’s distance away and speak about as regularly as Chief Bromden in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

Edwards was the sporting director who identified Klopp as manager and brought in, among others, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Alisson and Virgil van Dijk.

It was the collection of players that helped Liverpool end their 30-year wait for a league title and turned a drifting giant into the champions of England, Europe and the world, surpassing even the achievements of the club’s sides from the 1970s and 1980s.

Yet the paradox, at a time when one of the banners on the Kop read “Champions of Everything”, was that Edwards did not even have a Wikipedia page. If you typed in his name, the first result was that of an ex-pro from Notts County.

A lot has changed since then for the University of Sheffield graduate, who has just been persuaded to return to Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s American owner, nearly two years since leaving the club. Edwards will be returning to a new, bigger role as FSG’s director of football operations.

He will have a prominent say in choosing Klopp’s successor and his influence will quickly become apparent when he brings in Richard Hughes, formerly Bournemouth’s technical director, to fill the vacant sporting director position at Anfield. Liverpool, once again, will be relying on Edwards to work his magic behind the scenes.

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