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Michael Emenalo’s surprise decision to resign as Chelsea’s technical director came as a shock to many, especially after the Blues trounced away to a 1-0 victory against Manchester United at home. After spending 10 years at Stamford Bridge, Emenalo decided to call it a day. While AS Monaco have emerged as a possible destination, it is believed that the former technical director is now keen on taking a break.
Over the years, Emenalo established himself as the gateway to all of Chelsea’s numerous loan deals. In that sense, it is a tempting proposition to view his resignation as a victory for Conte. The Italian has made no secret of his frustration at having to navigate this season with a dangerously thin squad following the summer’s troubled recruitment drive and, with one fewer voice in future conversations about Chelsea’s transfer strategy, his own words might stand a better chance of influencing club owner Roman Abramovich.
However, Emenalo was often the first to take the blame for anything that went wrong at Chelsea. He did all that while overseeing spectacular success on the pitch with respect to the youngsters. In fact, he did plenty to mystify and frustrate the fan base over the years. He always drew a lot of flak for Chelsea’s various loan deals, and while there will be no such grief over Emenalo’s departure among the fans, his resignation does create a number of problems for Chelsea.
A potentially vital January transfer window is edging closer, and while the Nigerian’s job centred more around the identification of targets than the doing of deals, losing him at this point is less than ideal for preparation.
Moreover, Conte will expect reinforcements if Chelsea remain in Premier League and Champions League contention, and Emenalo’s services would have been crucial. To add to their troubles, they will also be tasked with replacing Emenalo with a new technical director or revamping Chelsea’s decision-making structure. Neither option will be straightforward given the unique set-up they’ve been following all these years, coupled with the club’s controversial mass loan system.
Emenalo’s true legacy lies in how the Chelsea academy emerged as a dominant power in England and Europe. He has truly brought on some incredibly talented youngsters to the fore but most of his decisions have been quite controversial. One might even say that Emenalo was a necessary evil at Chelsea.
He did share an emotional moment on Sunday when he hugged academy graduate Andreas Christensen after the young Dane put up a flawless performance against Manchester United. In the coming days, he will likely take similar pride in Tammy Abraham and Ruben Loftus-Cheek making their first senior appearances for England.
Having said that, Chelsea must now find a way to keep moving forward without him in order to meet the expectations of their fan base, and that will truly be an uphill task.