Connect in the back of the net

The crucial role played by a technical director in the day-to-day running of a modern football club continues to be massively undervalued – and quite often ridiculed – by many English football fans and indeed much of the mainstream media.

Too many people fail to recognise how important it is to have that link between directors, coaches and players. Just because said structure has failed in some cases – think Franco Baldini and Tottenham Hotspur – this does not give people the right to scoff at the concept with nothing but flippant ridicule.

This is exactly why Michael Emenalo’s resignation from his post at Chelsea has been met with a certain degree of indifference. People fail to realise exactly how good a job he has done at Stamford Bridge, working in several different roles over the past ten years. At a club in which stability is such an alien concept, the Nigerian has been one of very few constants in the midst of a managerial merry-go-round.

Many consider the 52-year-old to be the architect of their now renowned player development system in which talented youngsters are stockpiled and then sent on loan (several times over in some cases) to fine-tune their skillset in less pressurised environments.

Only then will the decision be taken to promote them to the first team squad or sell them on elsewhere, for maximum profit of course. Emenalo is also credited with increasing the productivity of the club’s academy, as well as being a key figure behind the rise of Chelsea Ladies.

Antonio Conte, whose own future in London is uncertain to say the least, has also lost a key ally in the wake of Emenalo’s decision to quit. While the Italian did grow restless with the club’s inability to secure key transfer targets such as Alex Sandro, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Romelu Lukaku during the summer, he did always retain the support of the man who was originally brought to England by Avram Grant back in 2007.

There we have it; yet another period of transition lies in wait for Chelsea, with owner Roman Abramovich losing one his most trusted lieutenants. The search for Emenalo’s successor is already well underway, but the tricky part will no doubt be finding a candidate who is willing to share key responsibilities with Marina Granovskaia.

While an excellent businesswoman in her own right – she did broker the sponsorship deal with Nike that will see the club earn £60 million per year until 2032 – doubts remain over her credentials to control the football side of operations.

Abramovich must now steady the ship and quickly as, despite many observers failing to realise it, Emenalo played a vital role in creating the super club that is Chelsea as we know it today.

His calming influence provided stability when it so often felt out of reach, and he would have continued to play a key role in easing any tension with Conte, which there too often seems to be in abundance. Finding the right successor will be pivotal to The Blues’ chances of repeating the unprecedented success enjoyed throughout the last decade.

 

Written by Jordan Russell

Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordRuss96 

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