Chelsea has just finished fifth in the Premier League and out of the Champions League places after the final games were played this afternoon. They won the league last season and many fans may think that the reason for this term’s failure is the absence of talisman striker Diego Costa who was sold in the summer. But coach Antonio Conte has a different idea.
Antonio Conte has admitted that the loss of Michael Emenalo as Chelsea’s technical director in November made his job harder this season.
Emenalo was with the club for ten years, starting as chief scout under Avram Grant, before becoming assistant manager in 2010 and then taking the technical director role a year later.
The Nigerian left his role with Chelsea in November 2016, claiming that he wanted to take time away from the game and spend more time with his family, however then became Monaco’s sporting director just three weeks later.
Conte has always claimed that his relationship with Emenalo was strong and the latter was often a buffer between Marina Granovskaia and the board when it came to transfers.
Emenalo was often the fall guy when it came to supporters anger often a lack of transfers, but his role in that way was often misunderstood. Also being a trusted advisor to Roman Abramovich helped link the board, Emenalo’s departure obviously affected Conte.
When asked if his departure made Conte’s job harder, the Italian said: “Yeah, yeah I think to lose Michael was a big loss for us. I think so because Michael did a great job for this club for many years and last season he helped me a lot during the season and this season until he stayed here.
For me it was a big loss, I remember very well, after the United game.
“This is not my decision, as you know very well. My task is to work very hard, this is not my decision. this is the decision for the club. I think I am not in the position to tell this [whether the club need to replace him].”
By Oliver Harbord. This article first appeared on football.london