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Michael Emenalo quits as Chelsea technical director in blow to Roman Abramovich.

"The long-serving technical director was a lightning rod for criticism without him the board are uncommonly exposed over such issues as transfers.It was easy to lapse into cynicism glancing at the statement,published on Chelsea’s website,that announced Michael Emenalo’s decision to stand down.The quotes detailed regret,board and owner having attempted to persuade him to stay, with the penultimate paragraph drawn from Antonio Conte.“I am very sorry to see Michael leave,” said the Italian,who expressed thanks for all the support offered up by the technical director since arriving at the club.“I have enjoyed working with him very much.”

"This club have always been prone to political intrigue and power grabs, so it would be easy to raise an eyebrow at the head coach’s eulogy.Conte,after all,had scowled through the summer,firing off text messages seeking updates on transfer business from his Mediterranean beach retreat,apparently livid at the champions’ inability to secure the players on his wishlist,from Alex Sandro to Romelu Lukaku,either early in the window or at all.Recruitment came under the remit of Emenalo and the director,Marina Granovskaia.Now one of those figures has departed,his decision apparently taken when relationships were most strained.Instinct might suggest Conte’s position might,in fact,be bolstered.

Yet in the days that follow it may become clearer how Emenalo will actually be missed,in boardroom and dugout alike. Granovskaia has taken on his day-to-day duties until a replacement is found,with figures such as Eddie Newton,the loan technical coach,and Scott McLachlan, head of international scouting,reporting directly to her while a potentially busy January window edges ever closer.The workload is onerous.Conte,meanwhile, will hardly be able to persuade Roman Abramovich to appoint one of his own associates as a replacement and, in many ways,he would look to have lost an ally in Emenalo.

"There may have been flashpoints over the summer but,despite the head coach blanking his technical director on the touchline on Sunday as he departed the pitch still pumped up and punching the air in triumph,the tension had apparently eased in that relationship. Emenalo had been generally supportive as the frustration simmered behind the scenes over a title defence Conte has regularly described as in a state of “emergency”.The 52-year-old clearly offered some stability over a decade where upheaval has been common but he also provided an element of calm in an emotive boardroom.When others in the hierarchy might be railing – say,perhaps, when it comes to a manager under pressure – he would be the one arguing for patience,for a pause for breath,for simple common sense.

"The outside world will be drawn to the interview given to the club’s internal television channel back in December 2015 when he pointed to “palpable discord” between manager and players as justification for José Mourinho’s dismissal,and never mentioned the Portuguese by name.That was toeing the party line in the extreme,yet most around the club were startled that a figure who has generally shied from the limelight should offer such an explosive soundbite. It did not seem to be his style.

He was also a lightning rod.A disgruntled support poured their scorn on him over that interview and the show of disrespect for Mourinho at a time when their own frustrations were being taken out on underachieving players.They had been just as aghast when he replaced Ray Wilkins as an assistant under Carlo Ancelotti back in the Italian’s “difficult moment” in the autumn of 2010,pointing to Emenalo’s patchy and unspectacular coaching career. When transfers failed to materialise,Lukaku joined Manchester United or Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had second thoughts, it was invariably Emenalo who bore the brunt. He may have played a part in those failures,or the purchase of other players who have not made the grade,but he invariably drew the bulk of the criticism. Now the board’s safety net has gone.

Perhaps all the abuse ground him down in the end.Emenalo has three young children, boys of 11,nine and seven,and the last decade must have drained him. “It is entirely my decision and it has come about for very simple reasons,” he told Chelsea TV.“I need an opportunity to get to see my young kids grow and also to step back and reflect on the work I have done here.This is not a knee-jerk decision. It has been on my mind and it has been thoroughly discussed among friends and colleagues.At my age and after 10 years of demanding and gruelling and all-encompassing work,[this] is very necessary.”

It was also appropriate in the timing. England’s senior squad joined up at St George’s Park on Monday with its Chelsea representatives,Tammy Abraham and Ruben Loftus-Cheek,both young players of considerable promise on Emenalo’s list of loanees.He would point to their progress as evidence that the plan instigated over the last six years is reaping rewards,with a glance at the significant contingent of Chelsea players in England’s hugely successful junior teams an indication that there is plenty more to come.He certainly helped make the whole process self-sustainable.Maligned as he was from the outside,those within the club truly valued Emenalo.Those tributes may just have been heartfelt after all.

-The Guardian - Int'l

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